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Black Scabbardfish

Black Scabbardfish

Black Scabbardfish Aphanopus carbo; Lowe, 1839. Family: Trichiuridae

Found off the British Isles in the Rockall Trough; the best commercial catches of black scabbardfish are from 800-1,100 metres. This species has provided the main fishery around Madeira for generations of fishermen using longlines. In 1983 a new commercial fishery, also with longlines, began off Seisimbra (on the Portuguese coast just south of Lisbon). French trawlers began fishing for black scabbardfish off the west coast of Scotland in 1988, and within four years annual landings exceeded 5,000 tonnes. Total international landings from waters west of the British Isles in 2001 were 5,417 tonnes. Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for EU vessels in 2003 has been set at 3,110 tonnes.

Black scabbardfish (known as peixe espada preto in Portuguese) is prized for the quality of its flesh, and commands high prices. Juvenile and mature fish have not been observed in the Rockall Trough, and the location of the breeding grounds remains unknown. It is possible that the stock off the west of Scotland might be an extension of the breeding population found around Madeira and the Azores.