Ling

Molva molva

Ling

Image | by Marc Dando copywrite Seafish

Description

Ling is a member of the cod family. It is long and slender with a mottled olive and brown colour. The flanks are lighter with brownish blotches and the belly is white.


Sustainability Overview

Ling, although less vulnerable to fishing mortality than typical deep-water species resides in deep waters, forming assemblages with more vulnerable deep sea fish. Catches are stable or increasing for the major fisheries, but it is uncertain whether this is due to improved fishing efficiency or increased abundance. The state of the stock relative to historical levels is unknown and may have been higher in the past. Avoid eating ling trawled in fisheries targeting deep-sea species.

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When is best to eat?

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Longlining

Baited hooks set on the seabed and left to fish. Rarely used by Cornish boats but was once very common.

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Gill Netting

Cornish vessels landing to Cornish ports

Gill nets are lightweight nets made of nylon (monofilament) fishing line that are anchored to the seabed and are used to catch fish by entangling the gills.

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Demersal Trawl

Cornish vessels landing to Cornish Ports

Demersal trawls are large nets that are pulled through the water with the bottom edge of the net touching the seabed. At each edge the net is pulled open by metal ‘trawl doors’. Sometimes referred to as Otter trawling.

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Beam Trawling

Cornish vessels landing to Cornish Ports

Beam trawls are nets attached to a steel beam that holds the net open. The belly of the net is made of chains and the upper surface of the net is mesh. Beam trawlers pull two nets along the seabed simultaneously.

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How we rate fish

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Cornwall Good Seafood Guide rates fish on sustainability using a scale of 1 to 5.

1, 2 and 3 are recommended, Fish to avoid are rated 5.

We use the system devised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) so our scores are comparable with the scores produced by MCS for the UK and fisheries from all around the world. For more information on scoring click here.

Sustainability Overview

Ling, although less vulnerable to fishing mortality than typical deep-water species resides in deep waters, forming assemblages with more vulnerable deep sea fish. Catches are stable or increasing for the major fisheries, but it is uncertain whether this is due to improved fishing efficiency or increased abundance. The state of the stock relative to historical levels is unknown and may have been higher in the past. Avoid eating ling trawled in fisheries targeting deep-sea species.

Ling

Biology

Ling grow extremely large, up to 2 meters in length and resemble a cross between a conger eel and a cod. Ling are slow growing and can live for up to 25 years. They are seen by divers occasionally but the majority are found at depths of between 100m and 400m deep.  Ling are active predators that feed on other fish such as cod and herring and crustaceans such as crabs and lobster. Ling spawn between February and May. Ling has a high vulnerability to over fishing (77 out of 100 ref Cheung et al 3005) Ling prefer cold waters and are migratory and widely distributed around the North east Atlantic.

Stock Info

Stocks have not been studied in detail in our area. Although landings to Cornwall of ling are around 300 tonnes per year this is a tiny fraction of the landings caught by the European and Faroes fleet operating to the North of Scotland. Studies of these large scale longline and trawl fisheries show that Ling stocks are stable and possibly increasing. Landings to Cornwall have decreased significantly since the 1990’s but this may be due to reduced effort. Longlining targeting ling is no longer carried out and the trawler fleet has reduced in size. Catch per unit effort data suggests that stocks are either stable of increasing. ICES advises that catches are cut by 20% in 2015.

Management

Ling catches are restricted through Quotas set by the EU Common fishing Policy. No specific management objectives are known to ICES. The legal minimum landing size for ling in EU waters is 63cm. However ling matures at 80-90cm, so this is an inadequate measure to protect immature fish. 

Capture Info

Ling are caught by beam trawlers, netters and demersal trawlers. Longlining targeting ling and hake, once a mainstay of the Newlyn fleet  is now a rare practice with many boats having switched to netting and trawling in the 1970’s and 80’s.

References

MMO  landings data 
Project inshore pre assessment database 
www.fishonline.org.uk
ICES Advice Ling 2014
Seafish species guide ling 2014
Ref  -Cheung, W.W.L., T.J. Pitcher and D. Pauly, 2005. A fuzzy logic expert system to estimate intrinsic extinction vulnerabilities of marine fishes to fishing. Biol. Conserv. 124:97-111
CES WGDEEP REPORT 2014
IUCN red list Ling
  

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