Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)

drawing: sablefish

Sablefish Life History

Drawing: sablefish larva at 20mmSablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria), often referred to as Blackcod, inhabit shelf and slope water to depths of > 1500 m, from central Baja California to Japan and the Bering sea. Abundance is centered in northern BC and the Gulf of Alaska. Although, there is sufficient movement among areas to consider sablefish throughout their range as one population genetically, the movement of adults is limited enough to enable assessment and management on a smaller scale. Independent assessments are conducted by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service for the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, and Wash-Calif.. In Canada, DFO conducts separate analyses for northern and southern B.C. waters, with a split at approximately 51.25 ° N latitude based on differing patterns of recruitment and growth.

This species spawns in Jan-March along the continental shelf at depths greater than 1000 m. Larval sablefish are found in surface waters over the shelf and slope in April and May. Juveniles migrate inshore over the following six months and rear in nearshore and shelf habitats until age 2-5 when they migrate offshore and into the fishery. Juveniles are highly migratory with significant movement from nursery areas in Hecate Strait to the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. Growth is very rapid with female average size at maturity of 55 cm attained at 3-5 years. Maximum sizes are ~80cm and the oldest fish aged to date is 113 years. Age, growth and maturity parameters vary considerably among areas and depths.

Sablefish recruitment is variable with strong year -classes that occur periodically . The production of strong year-classes is believed linked to higher copepod abundance arising from favourable environmental conditions. The long lived nature of this species is likely a strategy to ensure survival over extended periods of low recruitment resulting from environmentally unfavourable conditions.

Sablefish Fishery

Sablefish have a long history of exploitation with recorded landings starting in 1913. Foreign fishing was conducted from 1961 to 1981 and gradually phased out after the declaration of the 200-mile fishery conservation zone in 1977.

The domestic fishery is conducted using longline Korean traps with modest amounts landed using longline-hooks and trawl nets. The longline fisheries are deepwater, targeting depths between 500 and 1000 m. Sablefish longline fishers are regulated under a "K"tab license and can fish either hooks or traps. This fishery has operated under an Individual Transferable Quota system (ITQ) since 1990. The trawl fishery is allocated approximately 8% of the available quota.

Publications

Cox, S.P., Kronlund, A.R., and Lacko, L. 2011. Management procedures for the multi-gear sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) fishery in British Columbia, Canada. Can. Sci. Ad. Sec. Res. Doc. 2011/063. Complete document (PDF).

Cox, S.P., Kronlund, A.R., and Wyeth, M.R. 2009. Development of precautionary management strategies for the British Columbia sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) fishery. Can. Sci. Ad. Sec. Res. Doc. 2009/043. Complete document (PDF).

Cox, S.P. and Kronlund, A.R. 2009. Evaluation of interim harvest strategies for sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) in British Columbia, Canada for 2008/09. Can. Sci. Ad. Sec. Res. Doc. 2009/042. Complete document (PDF).

Haist, V., Kronlund, A.R., and Wyeth, M.R. 2005. Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) in British Columbia, Canada : Stock assessment for 2004 and advice to managers for 2005. Can. Sci. Ad. Sec. Res. Doc. 2005/031.  Complete Document (PDF).

Haist, V., Kronlund, A.R., and Wyeth, M.R. 2004. Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)in British Columbia, Canada : Stock assessment for 2003 and advice to managers for 2004. Can. Sci. Ad. Sec. Res. Doc. 2004/055.  Complete Document (PDF).

Wyeth, M.R, Kronlund, A.R., and Elfert, M. 2004. Summary of the 2003 British Columbia sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)research and assessment survey. Can. Data. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1148: vii + 68 p.

Wyeth, M.R, Kronlund, A.R., and Elfert, M. 2004. Summary of the 2002 British Columbia sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)research and assessment survey. Can. Data. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1140: vii + 50 p.

Kronlund, A.R., Haist, V., Wyeth, M.R., and Hilborn, R. 2003. Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)in British Columbia, Canada : Stock assessment for 2002 and advice to managers for 2003. Can. Sci. Ad. Sec. Res. Doc. 2003/071.  Complete Document (PDF).

Wyeth, M.R., Kronlund, A.R., and Elfert, M. 2003. Summary of the 2001 British Columbia sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)research and assessment survey. Can. Data. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1118: vii + 54 p.

Wyeth, M.R. and Kronlund, A.R. 2003. Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)research and assessment surveys conducted in British Columbia waters from 1996 through 2000. Can. Data. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1116: viii + 130 p.

Kronlund, A.R., M. Wyeth, and R. Hilborn. 2002. Review of survey, commercial fishery and tagging data for sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)in British Columbia (Supplement to the November 2001 sablefish stock assessment). Can. Sci. Ad. Sec. Res. Doc. 2002/074.  Complete Document (PDF).

Haist, V., R. Hilborn, and M. Wyeth. 2001. Sablefish Stock Assessment for 2001 and Advice to Managers for 2002. Can. Sci. Ad. Sec. Res. Doc. No. 2001/135.  Complete Document (PDF).

King, J.R., G.A. McFarlane and R.J. Beamish. 2001. Incorporating the dynamics of marine systems into the stock assessment and management of sablefish. In Pacific Climate Variability and Marine Ecosystem. Impacts from the Tropics to the Arctic. McKinnell, S.M., Brodeur, R.D., Hanawa, K., Hollowed, A.B., Polovina, J.J. & Zhang, C.-I. [eds.]. Prog. Oceangr. 49: 619-639.

King, J. R., G. A. McFarlane and R.J. Beamish. 2000. Decadal scale patterns in the relative year class success of sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria). Fish. Oceangr. 9: 62-70.

Beamish, R. J., and G. A. McFarlane. 1999. Reevaluation of the interpretation of annuli from otoliths of a long-lived fish, Anoplopoma fimbria. Second International Symposium on Fish Otolith Research and Application. Fisheries Res.

Haist, V., R. Hillborn and M.W. Saunders. 1999. Sablefish stock assessment for 1999 and recommended yield options for 2000 and 2001. Canadian Stock Assessment Secretariat Research Document 99/195.  Complete Document (PDF).

Haist, V., D. Fournier and M.W. Saunders. 1999. Reconstruction of B.C. sablefish stocks, 1966-1998, and catch projections for 1999, using an integrated catch-age, mark-recapture model with area and depth movement. Canadian Stock Assessment Secretariat Research Document 99/79.  Complete Document (PDF).

McFarlane, G. A., and R. J. Beamish. 1998. The relationship between longevity of sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, and ocean productivity regimes, and implications for management. Submitted to N. Am. J. Fish. Mgmt.

Downes, A.J., W.T. Andrews, M.S. Smith, M.W. Saunders, and G.C. Jewsbury. 1997. Cruise details of sablefish surveys conducted in B.C. waters, 1994-95. Can. Data Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1007: 106 p.

McFarlane, G. A., M. W. Saunders, R. E. Thomson, and R. I. Perry. 1997. Distribution and abundance of larval sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, off the west coast of Vancouver Island, and linkages to physical oceanography, p. 27-38. In M. E. Wilkins and M. W. Saunders [eds.]. Biology and Management of Sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, International Symposium on the Biology and Management of Sablefish, Seattle, Washington, 13-15 April, 1993. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS 130.

Beamish, R. J. and D. E. Chilton. 1982. Preliminary evaluation of a method to determine the age of sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria). Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 39:277-287.

Beamish, R. J. and G. A. McFarlane. 1983. Summary of results of the Canadian sablefish tagging program. p. 147-183, In Proceedings of the second Lowell Wakefield fisheries symposium, Anchorage, AK. Alaska Sea Grant Report 83-3.

Beamish, R. J. and G. A. McFarlane. 1988. Resident and dispersal behaviour of adult sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)in the slope waters off Canada's west coast. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 45: 152-164.

Kabata, A., G. A. McFarlane, and D. J. Whitaker. 1988. Trematoda of sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, (Pallas, 1811), as possible biological tags for stock identification. Can. J. Zool. 66: 195-200.

Ketchen, K. S. [Ed]. 1980. Assessment of groundfish stocks off the west coast of Canada (1979). Can. Data. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 185:213p.

McFarlane, G. A. and R. J. Beamish. 1983a. Overview of the fishery and management strategy for sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)off the west coast of Canada. pp. 13-35. In Proceedings of the Second Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposium, Anchorage, AK, Alaska Sea Grant Report 83-3.

McFarlane, G. A. and R. J. Beamish. 1983b. Biology of adult sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)in water off western Canada. pp. 59-80. In Proceedings of the Second Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposium, Anchorage, AK, Alaska Sea Grant Report 83-3.

McFarlane, G. A. and R. J. Beamish. 1990. Effect of an external tag on growth of sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria), and consequences to mortality and age at maturity. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 47:1551-1557.

McFarlane, G. A. and R. J. Beamish. 1992. Climatic influence linking copepod production with strong year-classes in sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 49: 743-753.

McFarlane, G. A., and R. J. Beamish. 1995. Validation of the otolith x-section method of age determination for sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)using oxytetracycline, p. 319-329. In D. H. Sector, S. E. Campana , and J. M. Dean [eds.]. Recent developments in fish otolith research. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina.

McFarlane, G. A. and M. W. Saunders. 1997. Dispersion of juvenile sablefish as indicated by tagging in Canadian waters. In M. E. Wilkins and M. W. Saunders [eds.]. Biology and Management of Sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, International Symposium on the Biology and Management of Sablefish, Seattle, Washington, 13-15 April, 1993. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS 130.

McFarlane, G. A., and W. D. Nagata. 1988. Overview of sablefish mariculture and its potential for industry. Proceedings of the Fourth Alaska Aquaculture Conference, Alaska Sea Grant Rep. 88-4. p. 105-120.

McFarlane, G. A., W. Shaw, and A. V. Tyler. 1985. Sablefish. pp. 163-186. In Tyler, A. V. and G. A. McFarlane [Eds.]. 1985. Groundfish stock assessments for the west coast of Canada in 1984 and recommended yield options for 1985. Can. MS Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1813:353p.

Murie, D.J., M.W. Saunders, and G.A. McFarlane. 1996. Canadian trap-fishery for sablefish on seamounts in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, 1983-1993. Can. Manuscr. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2348: 107 p.

Saunders, M. W., B. M. Leaman, and G. A. McFarlane. 1997. The interaction of ontogeny and fishing mortality on the interpretation of sablefish life history and population dynamics. In M. E. Wilkins and M. W. Saunders [eds.]. Biology and Management of Sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, International Symposium on the Biology and Management of Sablefish, Seattle, Washington, 13-15 April, 1993. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS 130.

Saunders, M. W. and G. A. McFarlane. 1990. Sablefish. pp. 127-149 In Tyler, A. V. and J. Fargo [Eds.]. Groundfish stock assessments for the west coast of Canada in 1989 and recommended yield options for 1990. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1732:343p.

Scarsbrook, J. R., G. A. McFarlane, and W. Shaw. 1988. Effectiveness of experimental escape mechanisms in sablefish traps. N. Am. J. Fish. Mgmt. 8: 158-161.

Shaw, W., and G. A. McFarlane. 1997. Development of sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, larvae off the west coast of British Columbia, and transformation to the juvenile stage, p. 3-12. In M. E. Wilkins and M. W. Saunders [eds.]. Biology and Management of Sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, International Symposium on the Biology and Management of Sablefish, Seattle, Washington, 13-15 April 1993. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS 130.

Stocker, M. and M.W. Saunders. 1997. Utility of an age and sex structured model for sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, stock assessment off the west coast of Canada. In Biology and management of sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria), papers from the Int. Symp. on the Biology and Management of Sablefish, Seattle WA 13-15 April 1993. M. Wilkins and M. Saunders (eds.) NOAA Technical Report NMFS 130.

Ware, D. M., and G. M. McFarlane. 1986. Impact of Pacific hake, sablefish, and Pacific cod on west coast of Vancouver Island herring stocks. INPFC Bull. No. 47: 67-78.

Whitaker, D. J., and G. A. McFarlane. 1997. Identification of sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, (Pallas, 1811), stocks from seamounts off the Canadian Pacific Coast using parasites as biological tags, p. 131-136. In M. E. Wilkins and M. W. Saunders [eds.]. Biology and Management of Sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, International Symposium on the Biology and Management of Sablefish, Seattle, Washington, 13-15 April 1993. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS 130

Saunders, M. W. and G. A. McFarlane. 1991. Sablefish. pp. 117-136 In Fargo J. and B. M. Leaman [Eds.]. Groundfish stock assessments for the west coast of Canada in 1990 and recommended yield options for 1991. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1778:320p.

Saunders, M. W. and G. A. McFarlane. 1993. Sablefish. pp. 132-162 In Leaman, B. M. and M. Stocker [Eds.]. Groundfish stock assessments for the west coast of Canada in 1992 and recommended yield options for 1993. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1919:407p.

Saunders, M. W., G. A. McFarlane, and W. Shaw. 1987. Sablefish. pp. 72-87. In Tyler, A. V. and M. W. Saunders [Eds.]. Groundfish stock assessments for the west coast of Canada in 1986 and recommended yield options for 1987. Can. Man. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1930:156p.

Saunders, M. W., W. Shaw, and G. A. McFarlane. 1988. Sablefish. pp. 107-125 In Fargo, J., M. W. Saunders and A. V. Tyler [Eds.]. Groundfish stock assessments for the west coast of Canada in 1987 and recommended yield options for 1988. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1617:304p.

Saunders, M. W., W. Shaw, and G. A. McFarlane. 1989. Sablefish. pp. 119-131 In Fargo, J. and A. V. Tyler [Eds.]. Groundfish stock assessments for the west coast of Canada in 1988 and recommended yield options for 1989. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1646:294p.

Saunders, M. W., G. A. McFarlane, M. Stocker and B. M. Leaman. 1994. Sablefish. pp. 121-153 In M. Stocker [Ed.]. Groundfish stock assessments for the west coast of Canada in 1993 and recommended yield options for 1994. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1975: 352p.