Fact 1 - Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) is often referred to as black cod. This, however, is a misnomer as sablefish is not a type of cod and is, in fact, from an entirely different family!
Fact 2 - A more accurate nickname for sablefish is butterfish, which it gets from its high fat content and buttery flavour and texture. This high fat content causes the sablefish to be an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. Sablefish is also a good source of tamin B6 and B12 as well as magnesium.
Fact 3 - Sablefish have small fur-like scales that cover their dark gray-black bodies.
Fact 4 - Sablefish live in the Pacific Ocean and can be found anywhere from 980 to 8860 feet beneath the surface. They are deep, but come more shallow to spawn.
Fact 5 - These fish are avid migrators and can be found from the Bering Sea to Japan to California. Sablefish have been known to migrate up to 3000 km within the span of six years.
Fact 6 - They begin their life by spawning in winter and then rapidly grow until reaching full maturity in less than five years. Once full maturity is reached, females will tend to be around two feet in length, while males reach around three feet.
Fact 7 - In their early years, sablefish live in shallow continental shelf areas that are close to shore.
Fact 8 - Sablefish can live to be very old, with the oldest recorded sablefish being
over 110 years of age.
Fact 9 - Sablefish business took off in the late 1970’s and a 48-licence limit was installed in the early 1980’s and is still in place today.
Fact 10 - The sablefish fishing season often begins February 20th or 21st and continues for the full year and into the early new year. These fish are typically caught by the ground fish industry by means of longline and hook, longline and traps, and trawling as a by catch.
Fact 11 - The majority of Canada’s catch is shipped to Japan, but new markets are growing, like China.
Fact 12 - There are many conservation measures in place to help maintain the population and habitat. Any sablefish caught, that is less than 55cm, must be released by law. The size restraint is in place as most sablefish do not reach reproductive maturity until at least this size.
Fact 13 - The quota system, electronic logs, mandatory always on video cameras, and other measures spearheaded by the Canadian Sablefish Association (http://canadiansablefish.com/) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans help conserve the sablefish biomass and stock.
Fact 14 - Sablefish traps are required to have two holes, at least 8.89 cm in size, to allow smaller fish to escape. Young fish are further protected by the closure of many inlets in BC to commercial fishing. Traps must also have a biodegradable side, which degrades over time, so fish are not accidentally caught when trap is out of use.
And, bonus Fact 15 - Sablefish are quite likely the tastiest fish on the BC west coast, or at least right up there with a big Spring salmon, Halibut, Lingcod, Sockeye, Albacore, Spotted Prawns, and Dungeness Crabs.
Mmmmm mmmm mmmmmmmmm !