Escolar

(Lepidocybium flavobrunneum)

Snake mackerel, Gemfish, Butterfish, Smooth skinned oilfish, Black oilfish, Black butterfish

1. What is it?

Escolar or Oilfish (Lepidocybium flavobrunneum) are large pelagic, migratory species that move from deep to shallow water at night to feed. They are considered to be moderately vulnerable to fishing pressure. There is limited information available regarding stock status.

2. How was it caught or farmed?

Escolar are caught as bycatch in the pelagic longline fishery for swordfish and tuna. Pelagic longlines consists of a double-line system suspended at different depths covered in baited hooks and which are several kilometres long. Many ETP species, particularly turtles and sharks are at risk of impacts from pelagic longline fisheries. Discard rates are unknown, however, they may be high even although there is a complete discard ban in Namibia. Bycatch cannot be determined due to lack of data. Wider ecosystem implications are likely as a result of bycatch of apex predators such as sharks in the pelagic longline fishery. In South Africa, some effort has been made to reduce bird mortality by using bird scaring lines and other bird mitigation measures.

3. Where is it from?

Escolar are caught as bycatch along the west coast of South Africa and Namibia (FAO 47) in the tuna and or swordfish directed longline fishery. Overall, management is considered to be partly effective. Although there is no species specific management plan for escolar, within the longline fishery for tuna and swordfish a management plans exist that broadly covers species caught as bycatch. A number of mitigation methods are in place for both ETP and bycatch reduction, however, effectiveness remains uncertain. Monitoring of the target species is extremely weak but this is substantially better for key species such as tuna. Compliance and enforcement have improved.