The northern wolffish (Anarhichas denticulatus), or rock turbot, is a large marine fish of the Anarhichadidae family. Other common names include the Bull-headed Catfish, Blue Catfish, Broad-headed Catfish, Jelly Wolffish, and the Arctic Wolffish. Inuit in the Western Arctic (Bathurst Inlet) do not distinguish between the Northern Wolffish and the Bering Wolffish (A. orientalis), calling both by the name akoak or akoaksaluk ("old woman fish").
This fish, sometimes considered "charmingly ugly" is found across the North Atlantic Ocean from north of Russia to the Scotian Shelf, off Nova Scotia. Its western Atlantic population declined dramatically during the 1980sin part because the northern wolffish, while not sought after itself, is often caught by fishers seeking other catch. The population was observed to decline by more than 90 percent from the late 1970s through the early 1990s.
This species has been identified as Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). It is listed under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and was afforded protection under the SARA as of June 2004. Additional protection is afforded through the federal Fisheries Act. Under the SARA, a recovery strategy must be developed for this species.2
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