Wild Alaska Halibut and Sablefish (Black Cod) Harvest Seasons Kick Off March 19


More Than 95 Percent of Pacific Halibut and 70 Percent of Sablefish Harvested in the United States Comes from Icy Alaska Waters


Juneau, Alaska– March 16, 2016 – On March 19, wild Alaska halibut and sablefish, also known as black cod, will begin making its way into home kitchens, restaurants and retailers nationwide with the start of wild Alaska halibut and sablefish harvest seasons. Just in time for spring, the kick-off of this seasonal harvest means more access to some of the most delicious freshly-caught and frozen wild Alaska whitefish in the world.

While the 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend at least 8 ounces of seafood per week, a recent USDA study found approximately 80 to 90 percent of Americans aren’t eating nearly enough. To help consumers take advantage of the availability of halibut and sablefish, as well as other wild Alaska whitefish varieties including Alaska pollock, cod, sole and rockfish, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) has developed an Alaska Whitefish Buyer’s Guide, along with a collection of “Swap Meat” recipes demonstrating how to substitute seafood for meat in popular meals.

Alaska’s waters are home to over 95 percent of Pacific halibut and over 70 percent of sablefish harvested in the United States. The 2016 Statewide Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for Alaska halibut is 18.2 million pounds, and 20.4 million pounds for sablefish. Like all Alaska seafood, Alaska halibut and sablefish are wild and sustainably harvested, as mandated by the Alaska Constitution.

Alaska whitefish varieties: Each is low in fat, carbohydrates and cholesterol, and an excellent source of lean protein and essential minerals.

  • Halibut – Halibut has a sweet, delicate flavor with a firm and flaky texture. Alaska halibut is the largest of all flatfish and can grow to an impressive size of over 400 pounds, although most fish caught in commercial fisheries average 25 pounds. It has a pure, snow-white flesh and is harvested March through mid-November, and available frozen year-round.
  • Sablefish (black cod) – Sablefish, which can also go by the name black cod, has a succulent, rich flavor and velvety texture with a beautiful snow-white fillet, perfect flake and rich oil content. Alaska boasts the largest sablefish fishery in the world. The fish are harvested between March and mid-November. Most product is frozen shortly after landing and is available year-round.
  • Alaska cod (Pacific cod) – One of the most popular whitefish varieties, Alaska cod accounts for 99 percent of the cod harvested in the U.S. It’s moist and firm with a distinctive large flake and slightly sweet flavor and adapts well to most cooking methods. Harvest takes place in fall and winter and product is available frozen year-round.
  • Alaska pollock – Alaska’s pollock fishery is the largest commercial fishery in the United States. In addition to being abundant, Alaska pollock is incredibly versatile. Pollock has a beautiful flake, and tender texture, snow-white color, and mild flavor, making it an excellent choice for fish tacos, fish sticks and fish burgers. Alaska pollock is also the key ingredient in the world’s finest surimi products, which offer a high-quality, convenient and ready-to-use alternative to traditional shellfish. Harvest season takes place from January through April and June through October and is available frozen year-round. A recent federal ruling stipulates that only pollock caught in Alaska may be marketed as Alaska pollock in the U.S.
  • Sole – Also known as flounder, Alaska sole is a lean, tender flatfish. Its mild taste makes it widely appealing and easy to cook using a wide range of preparations, recipes and culinary flavors. Sole is harvested year-round, and also available frozen year-round.
  • Rockfish – Alaska rockfish is a group of lean fish species harvested in the Gulf of Alaska, ranging from mild to full in flavor. Rockfish have a pearly-white color and a tender, yet meaty, texture, making it adaptable to both lighter eating styles and a variety of different culinary flavors. Harvest season takes place January through November. Available frozen year-round.

Wild Alaska Seafood – Seasonality, COOK IT FROZEN!® Techniques and Recipe Ideas

Just like fruits and vegetables, wild Alaska seafood is harvested seasonally. For an overview of seasonality for different species, chefs and seafood fans can utilize ASMI’s Seafood for All Seasons calendar. While a harvest season signifies the availability of fresh fish, all species of wild Alaska seafood are available frozen year round. Using ASMI’s COOK IT FROZEN! ® techniques, frozen Alaska whitefish varieties, five different species of salmon, crab and spot prawns can be quickly and easily prepared in as little as 15 minutes without needing to thaw the fish first. For a quick and easy weeknight meal, try one of the recipes listed below:

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About Alaska Seafood:

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) is a partnership of the State of Alaska and the Alaska seafood industry promoting the benefits of wild and sustainable Alaska seafood and offering seafood industry education. The seafood industry is Alaska’s largest private sector employer with nearly 60 percent of all seafood and 90-95 percent of wild salmon harvested in the U.S. coming from Alaska. In addition to wild salmon, Alaska is known for its crab and whitefish varieties, such as cod, sablefish, halibut, pollock, sole, and rockfish, and is available frozen, canned, smoked and fresh year-round. Alaska has been dedicated to sustainable seafood for more than 50 years and is the only state with a Constitution that mandates all seafood be maintained under the sustained yield principle. Alaska has taken a leadership role in setting the standard for precautionary resource management to protect fisheries and surrounding habitats for future generations and leading to an ever-replenishing supply of wild seafood for markets worldwide.