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Grocers can start preparing their seafood departments for Alaska’s wild halibut and black cod (sablefish), for which harvest season opens tomorrow, March 23. Statewide Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits for Alaska halibut and black cod are set at over 23 million pounds and 35 million pounds respectively.
Alaska is home to over 95 percent of the Pacific halibut and over 65 percent of the black cod harvested in the United States.
The largest of all flatfish, Alaska halibut is prized for its mild, sweet flavor, firm texture, and spectacular results whether grilled, roasted, sautéed or poached, according to the Alaska Seafood Marketing institute. Alaska black cod offers a snow-white fillet, perfect flake and velvety texture. With its high oil content, Alaska black cod is ideal for smoking, roasting, broiling and sautéing.
Like all species of Alaska seafood, Alaska halibut and black cod are wild and sustainable as mandated by the Alaska constitution. The inclusion of sustainability language in the state constitution sets Alaska apart from every other state in the nation, and Alaska’s fishery management practices are considered a world model.
The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) is responsible for setting the annual halibut harvest limit for both Canada and the United States based on stock assessments and halibut biology. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) then makes allocative decisions based on that quota. In the Alaska black cod fisheries, the NPFMC reviews the harvest limits for federal waters while the state of Alaska manages the fisheries in state waters.
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) is a partnership of the State of Alaska and the Alaska seafood industry. It works to promote the benefits of wild and sustainable Alaska seafood and offer seafood industry education.
As part of that mission, ASMI has created Wild Alaska Flavor, a new immersive website that takes visitors on a tour of everything Alaska seafood from species profiles, to recipes and cooking videos, to information on sustainability and fishermen profiles.