Merluccius merluccius

The hake is a fish of the merlucidae family. It is also gadiform (with radiated fins) like cod, whiting and haddock and appreciates cold waters (10°) and depths of up to 1000 metres. This predator is a rather voracious carnivore. its large mouth is equipped with well-developed pointed teeth to be able to catch other fish, crustaceans and molluscs. It tends to live close to the bottom and feed at night. It can be up to 1 meter long and weigh up to 15 kilograms!

The hake of the Bay of Biscay has experienced significant fishing pressure for several years, especially on juveniles. Following more drastic management measures(introduction of fishing quotas) and an improvement in the selectivity of fishing gear, the stock has returned to a satisfactory level. Four European fisheries are currently MSC certified.

These measures are necessary because hake is a species with a fairly long generation time. It reaches sexual maturity at 4 years for males and 7 years for females and can live up to 20 years! To be marketed, hake must measure more than 50 cm.

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Les caractéristiques

  • Elongated bluish grey to silvery body
  • Absence of barb
  • Two dorsal fins
  • In steaks or fillets
  • Steaming, pan-frying or baking
  • Delicate and firm white flesh
  • Few edges
  • Lean fish (<1% fat)


The breeding period varies according to the area: from December to June in the Mediterranean, from February to May in the Bay of Biscay, from April to July in the west of Iceland and from May to August off the west of Scotland.
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Dans l'assiette

Hake can also be called whiting in the Mediterranean.

To preserve firm flesh, it is advisable to prepare and eat it quickly after purchase..

On a whole hake, the yield is 50% in fillets with skin.

© Crédit photo : Philippe Bourrel - Chef of the restaurant Le Jardin - Hôtel Richemond

zones de pêche

Hake is a fish found in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific waters, and also of South America and South Africa.

The state of hake stocks in Europe is variable. Three stocks have been identified:

  • Bay of Biscay to Norway: Good stock status

The state of the stock was worrying in 2000, but measures have been taken to adjust fishing effort and catch patterns, allowing the spawning population to recover (since 2011).

  • Spanish and Portuguese coasts: Stock in the process of recovery

There is a fairly high fishing mortality for this stock although it does not affect the stock's reproductive capacity. It is best to avoid buying products taken from these areas.

  • Gulf of Lion: Overfished

A reduction in fishing mortality and catches of juveniles is necessary to ensure the sustainability of the stock. It is preferable to avoid fishing there.

Techniques de pêche

Hake is fished all year round mainly bytrawlers, gillnetters and longliners.

In the south-west, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a hake fishery offers high quality products !

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