The bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) is a migratory species found in temperate and tropical coastal oceans worldwide. In the United States, bluefish are found along the entire east coast from Maine through Florida. Bluefish are blue-green on the back and silvery on the sides and belly. They have a pointed snout and a prominent jaw, with sharp, compressed teeth. Bluefish live up to 12 years and may exceed lengths of 39" and weights of 31 pounds. Bluefish eat a wide variety of prey and are particularly known for a feeding behavior called the "bluefish blitz" where large schools of fish attack bait near the surface.
Butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus), are a fast-growing and relatively short-lived species of finfish found from Florida to Nova Scotia. Although they are most abundant from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras and, their location is dependent on water temperature. Butterfish feed mainly squid, crustaceans and small fishes. Butterfish have a high natural mortality rate as they are preyed on by many fish species including long-finned squid, bluefish, and swordfish. Discards comprise a majority of the total butterfish catch, averaging 58% during 1989-2001 and 67% during 2002-2012. Otter trawls are the primary gear used to harvest butterfish on directed fishing trips.
Atlantic surfclams (Spisula solidissima) are distributed along the western North Atlantic Ocean from the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence to Cape Hatteras. Surfclams occur in both the state territorial waters (≤ 3 mi from shore) and within the EEZ (3-200 miles from shore). Commercial concentrations are found primarily off New Jersey, the Delmarva Peninsula, and on Georges Bank.The maximum size of surfclams is about 22.5 cm (8.9 inches) shell length, but surfclams larger than 20 cm (7.9 inches) are rare. The maximum age exceeds 30 years and surfclams of 15-20 years of age are common in many areas. Atlantic surfclams are suspension feeders on phytoplankton, and use siphons which are extended above the surface of the substrate to pump in water. Predators of surfclams include certain species of crabs, sea stars, snails, and other crustaceans, as well as fish predators such cod and haddock. Learn more about surfclams on the NOAA FishWatch website.
Spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) is a small species of shark found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans, mostly in the temperate and subarctic areas. Spiny dogfish are slim, with a narrow, pointed snout and characteristic white spots. They have two dorsal fins with ungrooved large spines and are colored grey above and white below. Males grow up to 3.3 feet, and females grow up to 4 feet. Spiny dogfish are top-level predators and feed on a wide variety of small fish, crustaceans, jellyfish, squid, and other marine animals. They are found both inshore and offshore, usually near the bottom but also in mid-water and at the surface. Learn more about spiny dogfish at NOAA's FishWatch.gov.
Golden tilefish (Lopholatilus chamaelonticeps) have white bellies and iridescent blue-green on the back with spots of bright yellow and gold. They are slow growing and can reach sizes of up to 3-3/4 feet, although the average size harvested is 2 feet. Tilefish typically live at depths of 250-1,500 feet where water temperatures range from 49 to 58 degrees. They are often found in and around submarine canyons where they burrow in mud or sand sediment. Some tilefish build large sand and rubble mounds, which provide habitat for other bottom-dwelling creatures and fishes.
Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scrombus) is a pelagic, schooling species distributed between Labrador (Newfoundland, Canada) and North Carolina. Mackerel are 0.1" long at hatching, grow to about 2" in two months, and reach a length of 8" in December, near the end of their first year of growth. Atlantic mackerel feed on crustaceans such as copepods, krill, and shrimp. They also eat squid, and some fish and ascidians (sac-like marine invertebrate filter feeders). Atlantic mackerel is an important prey species and is known to be preyed upon by many pelagic and demersal fish species, as well as by marine mammals and seabirds.
Ocean quahogs (Arctica islandica) are distributed in temperate and boreal waters on both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean. In the Northeast Atlantic, quahogs occur from Newfoundland to Cape Hatteras from depths of about 8 to 400 meters. Ocean quahogs further north occur closer to shore. The US stock resource is almost entirely within the EEZ, outside of state waters, and at depths between 20 and 80 meters. Ocean quahogs burrow in a variety of substrates and are often associated with fine sand. Ocean quahogs are one of the longest-living, slowest growing marine bivalves in the world. Under normal circumstances, they live to more than 100 years old. Ocean quahogs have been aged in excess of 200 years. Learn more about ocean quahogs on the NOAA FishWatch website.
Longfin squid, Doryteuthis (Amerigo) pealeii, is found from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Venezuela. In the northwest Atlantic Ocean, longfin squid are most abundant between Georges Bank and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Squid eggs are attached to rocks and small boulders or aquatic vegetation on sandy or muddy bottoms. Larvae are found in surface waters. Juveniles also live in the upper water column in water 165 to 1,650 feet deep. Adults live over mud or sand/mud substrates of the continental shelf and upper continental slope in waters up to 1,300 feet deep. Adults and juveniles migrate vertically during the day—they’re found near the seabed during day and move up into the water column at night. North of Cape Hatteras, squid also migrate seasonally—offshore during late autumn to spend the winter in warmer waters along the shelf edge and slope, and back inshore during the spring where they remain until late autumn.
The northern shortfin squid, Illex illecebrosus, is a highly migratory species of the family Ommastrephidae. Distributed across a broad geographic area, I. illecebrosus is found in the northwest Atlantic Ocean between the Sea of Labrador and the Florida Straits. Throughout its range of commercial exploitation, from Newfoundland to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, the population is considered to constitute a single stock. The southern stock component (inhabiting U.S. waters) is managed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, in accordance with the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan, and the northern stock component (inhabiting waters between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia) is assessed and managed by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization. Both stock components are managed based on an annual quota.
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council is one of eight fishery management councils responsible for the management of marine fisheries in the United States Exclusive Economic Zone. The council develops management plans for twelve species of fish and species off the coast of the Mid-Atlantic region.