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Pacific Whiting

Pacific Whiting, also known as hake, is a groundfish species found off the U.S. West Coast and Canada. Hake is a semi-pelagic schooling fish, meaning that they partially live on the ocean bottom and partially in the water column above.


Hake is the most abundant fish species found off the West Coast, and it constitutes the largest portion of all commercially harvested seafood in Oregon and the West Coast. On average, Oregon hake fishermen land more than 170 million pounds of whiting each year with an average economic value of $15 million to fishermen alone. The whiting fishery is among the most important in our state. Together with the bottom trawl groundfish, these two fisheries support the year-round seafood processing and fishing infrastructure in Oregon, which is crucial for all other local fisheries. The Oregon's whiting industry includes seafood processors in Astoria and Newport where whiting is offloaded and processed.

Whiting is a lean, white fish with large flakes, a mild flavor, and a delicate texture. This product offers great nutritional value and is produced to high-quality standards efficiently, making it also an affordable seafood option. Whiting is commonly used in surimi products, a popular ingredient in sushi. Hake is also becoming a seafood choice in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) national food programs, including a school lunch program, due to its excellent nutritional value and affordability. While much of the whiting was previously sold in the overseas markets, it is now becoming increasingly available at grocery stores nationwide.

Whiting is harvested with midwater trawl gear which involves moving a trawl net through midwater column. This harvest method has minimal impact on habitat and low incidental catch of other species, allowing for a clean, sustainable, and efficient fishery.

As a federal fishery, Pacific whiting is managed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service under the West Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan.

Several sectors participate in the Pacific whiting fishery, including the Shorebased sector, Catcher-Processors, Mothership, and the tribal fishery. Our industry falls within the Shorebased sector, where fishermen deliver their catch to shore-based processing facilities along the Oregon coast. The Catcher-Processors sector includes vessels that both catch and process the catch at sea, while the Mothership sector involves catcher vessels delivering to at-sea mothership processors. The Shorebased sector is managed under the Trawl Catch Share Program with a 100% observer coverage requirement.

In addition to the fact that the fishery is exceptionally well-managed, Oregon’s whiting fishermen and seafood processors are dedicated to the social and environmental sustainability of our industry and the resource. Hake was among the earliest fisheries to achieve its certification against the rigorous seafood sustainability standard of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2010. The fishery remains an active participant in the MSC program today. Furthermore, it became a part of the Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Certification Program in 2022, marking the first instance of a non-Alaska fishery joining the RFM Program. Under these programs, our fishery is obligated to undergo annual surveillance audits, with full recertification occurring every five years. This ensures that the fishery continues to meet stringent sustainability requirements of both the MSC and RFM programs.

Oregon fishermen who fish for hake represent local fishing families, with many businesses stemming from multi-generational fishing operations. Many whiting fishermen also participate in the non-whiting groundfish fishery, targeting rockfish, Dover sole, sablefish, etc. Many also participate in other fisheries like Oregon Pink shrimp, Oregon Dungeness Crab, and some even make annual voyages to fish in the Alaska Pollock fishery.

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