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What is Haddock?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 21, 2024
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Haddock is a fish species of the genus called Melanogrammus aegelfinus which can be found in the North Atlantic, on both the European and the North American coast. It’s a popular fish with a white underside, and a black line running across its top. It can grow to be about 3.6 feet (1.1 m) long and is fished year round, particularly on the European coast. There has been an interesting change in haddocks in the last few decades: they are now growing larger more quickly, and the juveniles, which tends to stay in fairly shallow water, are now found in larger sizes.

Larger and older haddock can swim in very cold and deep water, almost 1000 feet (304.8 m) from the ocean’s surface. These are difficult to catch, and most often smaller juveniles that prefer a depth of about 100 feet (30.48 m) are more likely to be caught. A variety of methods are used to catch haddock, but some concern about decline in fishing catches in North America led to fewer people being familiar with the fish as a food source. This population is recovering, and haddock is once again being seen as a common food, especially in the North American East Coast. It has always been popular in Northern Europe.

This fish has survived aggressive fishing because of its ability to quickly reproduce. Older and larger females can lay up to three million eggs a year. Younger fish just reaching sexual maturity may lay several hundred thousand. Of course, not all these fish survive and make it beyond the egg stage, but enough of them do to keep the population relatively stable.

Perhaps the reason for its popularity is that in taste, the fish is quite similar to cod. It’s a mild white fish that goes well with a variety of ingredients. In Massachusetts, haddock is sometimes called scrod, to distinguish it from cod, and to denote its juvenile status. The fish may be called by different names according to size. Markets are medium size and cows are the largest haddock. People also enjoy haddock because it is a very lean fish, with high amount of vitamin B12 and protein. If you’re looking for an oily fish to consume to get your omega-3 fatty acids, haddock is not a good choice, as it is too low in these fats.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is haddock and where can it be found?

Haddock is a saltwater fish belonging to the Gadidae family, closely related to cod. It thrives in the cooler waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, haddock is commonly found on both sides of the North Atlantic, from the Bay of Biscay to the southern Labrador Sea and Iceland.

How can you identify a haddock?

Haddock can be identified by its distinctive features: a dark lateral line running along its white side, a black blotch above the pectoral fin—often called the "Devil's thumbprint"—and a slender, elongated body shape. It typically grows to about 70 cm in length and can weigh up to 5 kg, as noted by marine biologists.

What is the commercial importance of haddock?

Haddock is highly valued for its culinary uses, with its mild flavor and firm white flesh making it a favorite for fish and chips. The fishing industry for haddock is significant, especially in European and North American markets. It's a key species for fisheries, with sustainable practices being crucial to maintain stocks, as reported by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.

What does haddock eat, and what is its role in the ecosystem?

Haddock primarily feeds on invertebrates like mollusks, echinoderms, and crustaceans, but it also consumes fish larvae. As a mid-trophic level predator, it plays a crucial role in balancing marine ecosystems by controlling prey populations and serving as prey for larger species, as outlined in marine food web studies.

How is haddock fished sustainably?

Sustainable fishing practices for haddock include regulated catch limits, seasonal closures to protect spawning, and gear restrictions to reduce bycatch. Certification programs like the Marine Stewardship Council also promote sustainable haddock fisheries by ensuring that certified catches meet strict environmental standards, thus helping to preserve fish populations and ecosystems.

What are the nutritional benefits of consuming haddock?

Haddock is a nutritious choice, rich in high-quality protein and low in fat. It provides essential nutrients such as vitamin B12, selenium, and phosphorus. According to nutritional data, it's also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health and cognitive function, making it a healthy addition to a balanced diet.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a All Things Nature contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By Rotergirl — On Jun 11, 2014

@Pippinwhite -- Another good way to bake haddock is to mix ranch dressing mix with mayo, coat the fish in it, and then in panko crumbs and bake it. That also adds some moisture, as well as flavor to it. I like haddock, but it can be very mild and it needs some kick.

I think one of my favorite things about fresh fish is the short cooking time. It just takes less time to do fish than it does to cook beef or pork, or even chicken. I can usually get haddock nicely done in about 10 minutes, or even less.

Try panko crumbs if you never have. They're a lot lighter and crunchier than bread crumbs. I really prefer them.

By Pippinwhite — On Jun 10, 2014

Haddock is really good for pan frying. My favorite way to do it is to coat the fish in a mixture of ground pecans, parmesan cheese and herbs and then pan fry it. That's a great way to add flavor and texture. It doesn't take very long -- just a couple of minutes on each side, depending on how thick the filet is.

Baking the haddock filet with the same coating also works fine. This is a great way to use up any leftover pecans from the holidays. Walnuts, almonds or cashews are also fine in this recipe.

With so many more people eating fish, it's always good to come across a really tasty recipe.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a All Things Nature contributor, Tricia...
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