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Sable Fish or Black Cod
(anoplopoma fimbria)



    Although sablefish does resemble cod, it does not belong to the codfish family. It's a member  instead, of the Anoplopomatidae family, a group of fish confined to the North Pacific.








Sablefish are found in the Eastern Pacific ocean from Mexico to Alaska's Aleutian Island chain. They are quite the opportunistic feeders, their diet consists of pollock, flounders, rockfish, herring, as well as sea anemones. There have even been small bits of seal fur  and bird remnants. Scientists conducted a study in 1982  and found that when deprived of food for up to five months did not show any signs of stress!




    Unfortunately, not much is known about the breeding and spawning habits of the sable fish.


    Although the black cod can attain a length of 40 inches and may weigh up to 40 pounds, the average commercially-caught sablefish measures about two feet long and weighs less than 10 pounds.

    The bulk of black cod harvest here in North America is exported to Japan where it is prized for it's buttery flavor. It is used both in Sushi and cooked dishes.



     Thanks to its rich oil content, sablefish is exceptionally flavorful and an excellent fish for smoking and most of the sablefish consumed here in the U.S. is smoked.


    From the Oregonian newspaper, Feb. 15, 2006:

    "Epicures in Japan have long coveted the sweet, flaky sablefish, also listed on U.S. menus as butterfish or blackcod.  Long popular in Hawaii, the fish has been discovered by gourmets elsewhere in the U.S., too:  Bon Appetit magazine rates sablefish one of its Top 10 "It-grediants" of the year in 2005."

Commercial fishing:  Sablefish as a targeted fishery did not gain much attention until the redistribution of the salmon fisheries in the 1980's. We purchased the F/V Western Skies in 1979 and for years, were one of the few vessels involved off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Entry into the black cod fishery was supposed to be curtailed decades ago, but only recently was a moratorium implemented. Today, the state of Alaska has an Individual Fishermen's Quota (IFQ)  developed on the vessel's historical catch that has served the industry well in both human safety and management of the resource. The lower 48 has developed a tiered system based on catch as well.

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