(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 vulnerable to high fishing pressures although little is known regarding their species biology and current stock status. Escolar is often sold under the name butterfish.

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. Bycatch of endangered, threatened or vulnerable seabirds, fish, sharks and turtles is an issue for the sector. 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 along the west coast of South Africa and Namibia (FAO 47). Management is considered to be poor due to the lack of a species specific management plan for escolar. However, within the longline fishery for tuna and swordfish a management plans exist that broadly covers species caught as bycatch.