Your seafood choices can have a big impact on the health of our oceans and lakes—so make sure they’re positive ones! Every month, Shedd’s Right Bite team highlights a sustainable seafood item as our Fish of the Month. August’s pick is MSC-certified sablefish, and we have a fresh summer recipe forsablefish skewers with basil-chili marinade to try out at home.

Although sablefish might not be the first fish that comes to mind for a summer grill out, Alaskans have commercially fished for this rich, buttery fish (also known as black cod and butterfish) since the late 19th century. This mouthwatering fish is like nothing I have ever tasted before and because it’s on Shedd’s “best choice list” for sustainable seafood, it makes an impeccable substitute for unsustainable fish like Chilean seabass. Currently, sablefish populations are healthiest in Alaska and Canada, but are also caught throughout the North Pacific coast. Unfortunately, Alaskan sablefish populations were not always so healthy. For many years, foreign and domestic fleets alike would overfish within Alaskan waters, taking too many fish out of the water without giving them a chance to repopulate.

This is where proper fishery management is essential to sustainability. After a federal law called the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery & Conservation Act was created, it worked to limit US sablefish catch to domestic fishermen only. In 1995, even stronger fishery management and regulation was set, permitting each fisherman an individual fishing quota (IFQ) of the total allowable catch and consequently reducing overfishing. Similar management has been implemented in Canada, helping both Canadian and Alaskan sablefish to be certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the world’s leading eco-certifier for sustainable seafood.

This extremely prized fish that is high in oil content, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture that tastes best when smoked or grilled. If you cannot find sablefish in your local grocery store, try calling your local fish market to order it in. Your family and friends will not be disappointed!

Image of Sablefish skewers with basil-chili marinadeSablefish skewers with basil-chili marinade
Serves 4
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¾ cup olive oil
1 tbsp. hot sauce
¼ cup fresh basil, minced
1/2 lbs. of MSC-certified sablefish
2 sweet peppers, sliced
1 small eggplant, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper, to taste
Skewers, pre-soaked if necessary

1. Whisk together vinegar, oil and hot sauce, and then stir in basil
2. Pour the marinade over fish and vegetables in sealable bag
3. Marinate for about 45 minutes in refrigerator, turning once before grilling
4. Thread fish and vegetables onto skewers and lightly salt and pepper
5. Heat grill to medium-high heat and grill skewers directly over heat
6. Continue to baste skewers with excess glaze and cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until desired texture

Posted by Brooke Havlik, conservation