Eptatretus deani 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Myxini Myxiniformes Myxinidae

Scientific Name: Eptatretus deani (Evermann & Goldsborough, 1907)
Common Name(s):
English Black Hagfish
French Mixine Noire
Spanish Bruja Pecosa, Mixinido Negro
Polistotrema curtissjamesi Townsend & Nichols, 1925
Polistotrema deani Evermann & Goldsborough, 1907

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2009-11-12
Assessor(s): Mincarone, M.M.
Reviewer(s): Polidoro, B., Knapp, L. & Carpenter, K.E.
This species is only known from the northeastern Pacific, where it is heavily targeted in at least half of range for the Asian eel-skin leather market. Reported landings for this species are mixed with the Pacific Hagfish (E. stoutii) and have been quite variable in both total catch and effort over the past 20 years (1988-2007). The reasons for the variability in catch and effort trends are not well understood. This species is currently listed as Data Deficient. More research is needed to quantify the impacts of fishing on this species' global population.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is found in the Eastern North Pacific, from southern Alaska, USA to near Guadalupe Island, Mexico (Wisner and McMillan 1990).
Countries occurrence:
Canada; Mexico; United States
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northeast
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):2743
Upper depth limit (metres):107
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is known to be abundant across its range.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is found on muddy bottoms on continental shelf, slope, and deep-sea floor at depths from 107-2,743 m (Wisner and McMillan 1990).

Based on Oregon hagfish fishery, Barss (1993) sampled 897 black hagfish from commercial and research catches, from 1988 through 1989. The mean length of fish sampled from commercial landings was 34.5 cm. Fifty percent maturity for males and females was 34 cm and 38 cm, respectively. Examination of gonads indicates that spawning occurs throughout the year. Mature black hagfish females averaged 14 eggs over 5 mm in length.

Of a total of 480 specimens sexed by Wisner and McMillan (1990), 74% were female and 26% were male. The largest egg measured 52.3 x 10.5 mm and was among 14 large eggs in a 500 mm female. Very few eggs mature at the same time from the many hundreds of tiny, round to slightly ovoid eggs. No more than 15 or fewer than eight large eggs (30 mm and longer) were present in any female. Anchor filaments were visible on all eggs of 35 mm length or more.

The copulatory organ is absent in this species. The gonads of hagfishes are situated in the peritoneal cavity. The ovary is found in the anterior portion of the gonad, and the testis is found in the posterior part. The animal becomes female if the cranial part of the gonad develops or male if the caudal part undergoes differentiation. If none develops, then the animal becomes sterile. If both anterior and posterior parts develop, then the animal becomes a functional hermaphrodite. However, hermaphroditism being characterised as functional needs to be validated by more reproduction studies (Patzner 1998).

The longevity of this species is estimated at 40 years (King and McFarlane 2003).
Generation Length (years):15-20

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is targeted in trap fisheries along the west coast of North America for the Asian leather market. Whole frozen fish are shipped to South Korea for the eel-skin leather market.

In 1988, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife began sampling and monitoring the development of a new fishery for Pacific Hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii) and Black Hagfish (E. deani) (Barss 1993). Hagfish landings by Oregon trap vessels ranged from 11 metric tonnes in 1988 to a peak of 340 metric tonnes in 1992. In the 1988 catch, about 35% (4,165kg) was E. deani, the rest was E. stoutii. The estimate of catch per trap using “Korean traps” was 1.4 kg.

In 1989, three vessels landed 156 tonnes of hagfish at Newport and Astoria, with a decreased CPUE catch of about 0.8 kg of hagfish per trap. In 1990, the catch dropped with 11 vessels landing 75 tonnes of hagfish from 102 trips (0.73 tonnes/trip) but since then there has been an increase in total hagfish landings and CPUE but the catch has mostly been comprised of E. stoutii. In 1991, 12 vessels landed 124 metric tonnes from 131 trips (0.94 tonnes/trip), and in 1992, 15 vessels landed 340 metric tonnes of hagfish from 310 trips (1.09 tonnes/trip) (Barss 1993). Mixed catch reported from the US to the FAO, also shows a variable but increasing trend in landings from a low of 100 tonnes in 2000 to a peak of 600 tonnes in 2005 (FishSTAT 2009). However, is not known how much of the current catch is E. deani.

Catch data from British Columbia is very low, but suggests that there has been a decline in effort along with decline in metric tonnes landed. However it is not known how much of this decline was due to the poor quality of skins that were produced, or a decline in abundance of the hagfish, or to competition from the east coast fisheries. There are only minor landings of this species in the northern part of its range (Alaska).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no known conservation measures in place, but regulations are in the process of being implemented to manage fishing effort.

Citation: Mincarone, M.M. 2011. Eptatretus deani. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T196019A8992987. . Downloaded on 23 September 2018.
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