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 Oilfish (Escolar)
(Ruvettus pretiosus)


 Distribution & Size

The Escolar (Lepidocybium flavobrunneum) a species of fish in the family Gempylidae, is found in deep (200885 m) tropical and temperate waters around the world. It is also known as snake mackerel, and sometimes is marketed as "butterfish" or "white tuna", a controversial practice due to potential health problems related with consumption of the fish. The Escolar has an oil content of 1425% in its flesh. Odds are you'll know one when you see it: The distinctive oilfish is very long and dark brown with spiny, sharp scales (requiring heavy gloves to handle safely) covering its body and huge emerald-green, light-gathering eyes.  Caught worldwide, most often by longliners with hooks set in 1,000 feet or more. They also may be taken by sword fishermen since they move up from deep water at night.

 General Information

Italy and Japan have banned the sale of Escolar due to its potential side effects. It has been banned from consumption in Japan since 1977, as the Japanese government considers it toxic. In 1999, the Swedish and Danish national food administrations informed fish trade associations and fish importing companies about the problems Escolar and related fish could cause if not prepared properly and issued recommendations.

In early 2007, after a public outcry, receiving consumer complaints about mislabeled fish and conducting an investigation, the Hong Kong government's Centre for Food Safety recommended Escolar not be used for catering purposes, advised clear labeling and identification of fish species before sale, and purchase of fish from reliable sources, and recommended consumers become aware of the possible health effects of consumption of Escolar, Oilfish, and related species. The Hong Kong government has established a working group composed of members of the academia, trade and consumer group to prepare guidelines for assisting the trade and consumers in identifying relevant species of fish.

In the United States, the FDA, after receiving complaints about diarrhea associated with Escolar consumption, issued a bulletin recommending against import of the fish in the early 1990s. However, the FDA backed away from this recommendation and withdrew the bulletin several years later after deciding the fish was nontoxic and nonlethal. Currently, the FDA informally recommends, "Escolar should not be marketed in interstate commerce."

In mid-2007, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, after investigating cases of diarrhea caused by mislabeled fish, decided not to ban Escolar or Oilfish, but instead issued a fact sheet noting the potential adverse effects of consumption and recommending consumers speak with their retailer, verify fish species and consume the fish in small portion sizes using preparation methods that reduce oil content.

Hawaiian State Representative James Tokioka introduced a bill aimed at banning the catch, sale or possession of Escolar.

 Tackle & Bait

Deep drop tackle with an electric reel is a must.

 Eating Qualities

I am told they have definite laxative qualities, so if you catch one be careful about it's table qualities. A friend of mine spent the next day in the bathroom after enjoying his catch.

 State Limits & Regulations

World Record: 139 lbs 15 oz from New Zealand in 1986.

Size Limit  Closed Season  Daily Rec. Bag Limit  Remarks
None None None None
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