U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


Whitefish species (Family: Salmonidae, Subfamily: Coregoninae) have been, and continue to be, important fishery resources for people in northern circumpolar regions of the world. In Alaska and northern Canada they provide a dependable subsistence food base for people and their dogs, and in many places they are available when other sources of fish or wildlife are not. Whitefish species in Alaska are subject to intensive subsistence fisheries everywhere they occur, commercial fisheries in certain places, and limited sport fisheries.

Our understanding of whitefish biology comes primarily from studies of the same or similar species in other places, although some biological studies have taken place locally. Generally, our understanding of populations, migrations, and demographic distribution among habitats is poor. All species are present as riverine populations that spawn in upstream, gravel substrate reaches of rivers in fall and rear and feed in downstream reaches of rivers, open lake systems, and estuaries. Three species are known to maintain populations entirely within lake systems. The feeding ecology and preferred foods are different among species in the group, as are qualities such as age and size at maturity, fecundity, and longevity. The size at maturity, various aspects of morphology and ecology, and the timing of biological events such as spawning tend to be similar among river spawning populations of a particular species but can be quite different between river and lake populations. Learn more.

  • Inconnu (sheefish)
  • Bering Cisco
  • Broad Whitefish
  • Humpback Whitefish
  • Round Whitefish
  • Least Cisco