Soft Flesh in Sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, of Southeastern Alaska: Relationships with Depth, Season, and Biochemistry

Karinen, John F. and Barnett, Harold J. and Masuda, Michele (2010) Soft Flesh in Sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, of Southeastern Alaska: Relationships with Depth, Season, and Biochemistry. Marine Fisheries Review, 72(4), pp. 26-35.

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The condition of soft-textured flesh in commercially harvested sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, from southeastern Alaska was investigated by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) scientists from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center’s Auke Bay Laboratories (ABL) in Alaska and the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Wash. Sablefish were sampled by longline, pot, and trawl at five sites around Chichagof Island at depths of 259–988 m in the summer of 1985 and at depths of 259–913 m in the winter of 1986. At the time of capture and data collection, sablefish were categorized as being “firm” or “soft” by visual and tactile examination, individually weighed, measured for length, and sexed. Subsamples of the fish were analyzed and linear regressions and analyses of variance were performed on both the summer (n = 242) and winter (n = 439) data for combinations of chemical and physical analyses, depth of capture, weight vs. length, flesh condition, gonad condition, and sex. We successfully identified and selected sablefish with firm- and soft-textured flesh by tactile and visual methods. Abundance of firm fish in catches varied by season: 67% in winter and 40% in summer. Winter catches may give a higher yield than summer catches. Abundance of firm fish catches also varied with depth. Firm fish were routinely found shallower than soft fish. The highest percentage of firm fish were found at depths less than 365 m in summer and at 365–730 m in winter, whereas soft fish were usually more abundant at depths greater than 731 m. Catches of firm fish declined with increasing depth. More than 80% of the fish caught during winter at depths between 365 and 730 m had firm flesh, but this declined to 48% at these depths in summer. Longlines and pots caught similar proportions of firm and soft fish with both gears catching more firm than soft fish. Trawls caught a higher proportion of soft fish compared to longlines and pots in winter. Chemical composition of “firm” and “soft” fish differed. On average “soft” fish had 14% less protein, 12% more lipid, and 3% less ash than firm fish. Cooked yields from sablefish with soft-textured flesh were 31% less than cooked yields from firm fish. Sablefish flesh quality (firmness) related significantly to the biochemistry of white muscle with respect to 11 variables. Summer fish of all flesh conditions averaged 6% heavier than winter fish. Regulating depth of fishing could increase the yield from catches, but the feasibility and benefits from this action will require further evaluation and study. Results of this study provide a basis for reducing the harvest of sablefish with soft flesh and may stimulate further research into the cause and effect relationship of the sablefish soft-flesh phenomenon.

Item Type: Article
Title: Soft Flesh in Sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, of Southeastern Alaska: Relationships with Depth, Season, and Biochemistry
Personal Creator/Author:
Karinen, John F.
Barnett, Harold J.
Masuda, Michele
Refereed: Yes
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Fisheries Review
Volume: 72
Number: 4
Page Range: pp. 26-35
Date: 2010
ISSN: 0090-1830
Issuing Agency: United States National Marine Fisheries Service
Subjects: Biology
Item ID: 9670
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2012 16:27
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2012 16:27

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