The eastern Bering Sea was characterized by anomalously warm conditions in 2018. Over the northern…
About the Species
U.S. wild-caught sablefish is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
Alaska sablefish are below target level and Pacific coast sablefish are near target level. Fishing rates promote population growth.
At recommended levels.
The trawl, longline, and pot gear used to harvest sablefish have minimal or temporary effects on habitat.
Regulations limit the amount of incidentally caught and discarded fish in the Alaska fishery. The catch shares program on the West Coast creates incentives to reduce bycatch.
- According to the 2015 stock assessment, the West Coast sablefish stock is not overfished and is not subject to overfishing based on 2016 catch data.
- According to the 2018 stock assessment, the Eastern Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands/Gulf of Alaska sablefish stock is not overfished and is not subject to overfishing.
- Sablefish look much like cod. They are often referred to as black cod, even though they are not actually part of the cod family.
- Females can grow more than 3 feet in length.
- Females are able to reproduce at 6 ½ years old and more than 2 feet in length.
- Males are able to reproduce at age 5 and 1.9 feet in length.
- Sablefish spawn in deeper water along the continental slope from January to April in Alaska waters, and from January to March between California and British Columbia.
- Eggs develop in deep water for about 2 weeks until they hatch, then rise to the surface.
- Hatched larvae are moved by surface currents.
- Off southeast Alaska and British Columbia, juveniles appear in nearshore waters by fall.
- Juveniles have been found to migrate more than 2,000 miles in 6 or 7 years.
- Sablefish can live to be more than 90 years old.
Where They Live
- Sablefish are found in the northeastern Pacific Ocean from northern Mexico to the Gulf of Alaska, westward to the Aleutian Islands and into the Bering Sea.
- There are two populations in the Pacific Ocean:
- Northern population inhabits Alaska and northern British Columbia waters.
- Southern population inhabits southern British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California waters.
- Both populations mix off southwest Vancouver Island and northwest Washington.
- They are most commonly found in Alaska waters.
- NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the sablefish fishery in Alaska.
- Managed under the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Groundfish Fishery Management Plans:
- The State of Alaska manages fisheries in state waters under a shared quota system and also manages separate state fisheries.
- NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the sablefish fishery on the West Coast.
- Managed under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan:
- Coast-wide catch limits among different fishing groups and gear types.
- Daily trip limits for some vessels.
- Individual fishing quota (catch shares) for the trawl fishery and some of the fixed gear fishery. The West Coast groundfish trawl fishery is managed under a trawl rationalization catch share program.
- Full observer coverage in the trawl fishery, partial coverage in the fixed gear fishery.
Recreational Fishing Regulations
Commercial Fishing Regulations
NOAA Fisheries conducts various research activities on the biology, behavior, and population health of sablefish. The results of this research are used to inform management decisions for this species.
Dive Deeper Into Our Research
Sablefish in Alaska
NOAA’s Fisheries assesses sablefish populations and their role in Alaska ecosystems to provide information critical for the conservation and management of this prized species.
This document lists the current longline survey schedule for May-August.
Feasibility of Tagging Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) with Pop-Off Satellite Tags in the Northeast Pacific Ocean
This paper discusses the feasibility, methods, and initial results of satellite-tagging sablefish…
Data & Maps
The goals of the Ecosystem Status Reports are to: (1) provide stronger links between ecosystem…
The goals of the Ecosystem Status Reports are to provide stronger links between ecosystem research and fishery management and spur new understanding of the connections between ecosystem components by bringing together the results of diverse research