Monkfish

Monkfish

LAT Lophius piscatorius / Lophius budegassa
FRA Baudroie commune
ITA Rana pescatrice
ESP Rape
GER Seeteufel

A Delicacy with an Unappealing Appearance

The monkfish has a very firm, white, and bone-free flesh with an exquisite flavor, highly appreciated among connoisseurs. Since this deep-sea dweller has a massive head or mouth, typically only the tail or fillets make it to the market. The cheeks of the monkfish are particularly flavorful.

Season

All year round

Interesting to Know

The monkfish is found in the northeastern Atlantic from Morocco to Norway and Iceland, as well as in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Two subspecies of monkfish are marketed, namely the white-bellied monkfish (Lophius piscatorius) and the black-bellied monkfish (Lophius budegassa).

This predatory bottom-dwelling fish inhabits depths ranging from 20 to 1000 meters on sandy, muddy, or rocky substrates. Partially buried, it lures prey fish with its anglerfish-like dorsal fin ray, which it then inhales by rapidly opening its mouth. This allows the monkfish to swallow fish as large as itself. The sharp, inward-facing teeth facilitate swallowing and prevent the prey from slipping back out.

Monkfish can exceptionally grow up to 50 kg and 2 meters in length, although specimens available in the market are typically much smaller. Sexual maturity is reached around six years of age, with a tail weight of approximately 500 g. Female monkfish deposit up to 1 million eggs between April and June in a gelatinous ribbon, measuring up to 45 cm wide and 10 m long, which floats freely in the water. Depending on the currents, the larvae are exposed to more favorable or unfavorable conditions, significantly influencing reproductive success. The larvae, with large fins and appendages, live in open water until they reach approximately 6–8 cm in length before settling on the seabed.

Fisheries and Sustainability

Monkfish are often caught as bycatch in mixed fisheries using bottom trawls or beam trawls, or deliberately targeted using set nets or longlines. The population status of monkfish varies depending on the region. While stocks in Iceland and the Bay of Biscay down to Portugal are healthy, those off the coast of Scotland and in the North Sea are declining in some areas. In the Mediterranean, there is no systematic assessment of stocks.

As monkfish is a long-lived and slow-growing species, it is more vulnerable to overfishing. It is essential to prioritize environmentally friendly and selective fishing methods. Therefore, Original Fish offers monkfish from the Bay of Biscay, primarily caught using longlines or gillnets.

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