Did you know groundfishing, the catching of bottom-dwelling fish, dates back over 400 years when the first settlers arrived in New England? At one time, great fleets from Gloucester, New Bedford, and Boston sailed as far away as the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to fish for cod, haddock, redfish, and flounder.
At this time, Atlantic cod was the most prized of all groundfish because it was cheap, abundant, and easily dried and salted for long storage. By the early 18th century, cod was so central to the economy of New England that a wooden gold cod was hung from the ceiling of Boston City Hall.
Yet, while cod may be the most widely recognized of all groundfish, it was its cousin the haddock that had the greatest impact on the seafood industry. Most seafood up through the early 1900s was only sold fresh – it was haddock that became one of the first fish to be filleted and frozen for safe and easy transport, allowing consumers across the U.S. and Europe to enjoy its delicate white flake and sweet taste.
And if that wasn’t interesting enough, check out these fish facts about haddock:
- Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) is a saltwater fish from the family Gadidae, which means “the true cods.” It is the only species in the monotypic genus Melanogrammus.
- All haddock have a distinctive oval black blotch or “thumbprint,” sometimes called the "Devil's Thumbprint,” which sits between the lateral line that runs down its side and the pectoral fin.
- As a bottom-dwelling fish, haddock can be found at depths between 130 and 1,500 feet, and can reach up to 3 feet in length and up to 7 pounds in weight. The largest haddock on record weighed 37 pounds.
- Haddock can be found on both sides of the North Atlantic and spawn in New England between January and June on the eastern Georges Bank, to the east of the Nantucket Shoals, and along the Maine coast.
Haddock is extremely versatile and an excellent substitute in recipes for any mild, white fish. Though commonly breaded or battered for fish fries or in sandwiches, haddock can also be baked with bread crumbs (a New England favorite), broiled, poached, pan-fried, or grilled. It’s also a great source of lean, low-fat protein and is full of vitamins and minerals like B6, B12, and magnesium.
High demand and overfishing led to a perilous decline of the local haddock population in the early 1990s. However, thanks to careful guidance from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the New England Fishery Management Council, in collaboration with fishermen and industry leaders, the U.S. North Atlantic groundfish fishery is back and haddock are at their healthiest levels in over 25 years.
As one of the largest quota holders for New England haddock, Blue Harvest Fisheries is committed to protecting the health of our marine environment and local haddock fisheries. All of our haddock is harvested from MSC-certified fisheries in Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine - wild-caught by Blue Harvest Fisheries crews and local fisherfolk who take great pride in the freshness and quality of their catch. Our haddock is then processed in our own SQF Level 3, direct offload processing facility in New Bedford, MA. Direct from sea to your table, Blue Harvest Fisheries haddock is available fresh or frozen in a variety of forms and pack sizes.