Monkfish is a very significant fishery at Viking Village. Although some monk are landed as a bycatch of scallop fishing, most are caught by our gillnet boats with nets set on the bottom. We ship monkfish tails and heads to domestic markets primarily on the East coast, head on monk goes ultimately to Korea and the livers end up in Japan.
Monkfish is low in sodium and is a good source of niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, and potassium and a very good source of protein, phosphorus, and selenium.
•Geographic range: In the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, from the Grand Banks and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence south to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
•Habitat: Monkfish are live on the ocean bottom, typically on sand, mud, and shell habitats. They can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and depths from inshore up to at least 2,950 feet deep.
•Life span: Few males are seen older than age 7; females live longer than males, to at least 13 years and likely more
•Food: Monkfish are opportunistic feeders, feeding on whatever prey is available at the time. Adults mainly eat fish, including other monkfish, but also consume crustaceans, mollusks, seabirds, and diving ducks. Larvae feed on zooplankton (tiny floating animals); juveniles eat mostly small fish including sand lance, as well as shrimp and squid.
•Growth rate: Males and females have similar growth patterns up to age 6; thereafter, females are slightly larger than males.
•Maximum size: 35 inches for males, 55 inches for females
•Reaches reproductive maturity: At approximately 14 inches in length for males and 16 inches for females
•Reproduction: Female monkfish release large "egg veils" that can contain more than 1 million eggs. These egg veils float freely in the surface water according to the prevailing currents. They are thought to remain near the surface for 1 to 3 weeks (depending on temperature) until the egg veil disintegrates and the larvae hatch. NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center runs the Monkfish Egg Veil Sighting Network to help scientists to better understand when and where monkfish spawn and where the egg veils travel after spawning. Scientists use the information on egg veil sightings along with satellite data and ocean circulation patterns to predict where eggs will hatch.
•Spawning season: February through October, progressing from south to north
•Spawning grounds: Unknown, though thought to be on inshore shoals and offshore over deep water
•Migrations: Seasonal; related to spawning and food availability
•Predators: Large monkfish have few predators. Small monkfish are eaten by various predacious fish including swordfish, sharks (dusky, sandbar, spiny dogfish, and smooth dogfish), and thorny skate. Monkfish have been observed in the stomachs of other monkfish, though cannibalism rates are probably quite low with the possible exception of large breeding females.
•Commercial or recreational interest: Commercial
•Distinguishing characteristics: Monkfish are described as mostly mouth with a tail attached because they have very broad heads and large mouths. Monkfish are capable of eating prey as long or longer than themselves.