Good Fish Guide
Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - All applicable methods
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - All Areas
Stock detail - All Areas
Fish type - White round fish
Deepsea fish are highly vulnerable to over-exploitation and have a low resilience to fishing. Compared to other deep-water species the growth rate of black scabbardfish is relatively high. However fishing effort on black scabbardfish impacts other deepwater species and habitat. Avoid eating.
Scabbardfish (also called cutlassfish) are active, fast-swimming predators that live on or close to the seabed at depths from 200 to 1700 m. Compared to other deep-water species they are considered to be a relatively fast growing, with maximum age estimated at 15 years. Maderia and the Canary Islands are the only known spawning areas for this species in the Northeast Atlantic.
Scabbardfish is considered by ICES as one stock. The main distribution area has been identified as Subareas VI, VII, VIII, and IX and Divisions Vb, IXa, and XIIb. The stock status for the species in the areas assessed by ICES is generally unknown and reference points are not defined. Stock abundance has been stable since 2002. Harvest rates indicate a slight decrease in exploitation for fisheries in Subareas VI and VII, and in Division Vb and XIIb (northern parts) and a stable exploitation for fisheries in Subarea VIII and Division IXa (southern part). Catches in the assessed area have decreased since 2002 and catches in the remaining stock areas, Subareas I, II, IV, X, and XIV, and Divisions IIIa and Va, have fluctuated over time. ICES has advised that some fisheries should not be allowed to expand until there is sufficient information showing that the fishery is sustainable. Deep sea fish in general can only sustain very low rates of exploitation because of their very low productivity, high age at maturity and long lived trend. The advice for this fishery in 2017 and 2018 is the same as the advice for 2015-2016, an annual catch of no more than 5894 tonnes in each of the years.
There are no specific objectives for its management. In some areas there are closures to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) e.g. deep-water coral communities.
Black scabbardfish are mainly taken in mixed trawl fisheries along with other deepwater species such as roundnose grenadier and blue ling. As trawl fisheries for black scabbardfish are part of mixed fisheries, effort on black scabbardfish also impacts other commercial and non-commercial deep-water species. It is also taken in deep-water longline fisheries and in a targeted longline fishery off mainland Portugal, in which deep-water sharks are the main bycatch species. A zero TAC for deep-water sharks was introduced in 2008 and this may potentially lead to increased discarding. Deep-water trawls impact the ocean floor, causing potential damage to deep-water coral communities. This is however mitigated in some areas by area closures to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems.
Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below . Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.
ICES Advice 2016, Book 9 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/bsf-nea.pdf
Sign up to get all the latest marine related news from MCS
The UK charity for the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife.