Black scabbard fish

Scabbard fish or “Peixe Espada”


The fishing activity in Madeira has always been important. It started in the 15th century with the early settlers.

The first historical records of the black scabbard fish fishery date back to the 17th century. Today it has significant economic importance in Madeira and represents around 30% – 40% of all catches.

Scabbard fish in the farmers market in Funchal, madeira

Although delicious, the black and intermediate scabbard (Aphanopus carbo and Aphanopus intermedius) are ugly fishes: Their bodies look like long black eels (about a metre long) with fang-like teeth, no scales, large eyes and shiny black skin.

There is also a white version, the white scabbard fish, which is less popular and not such good eating.

All the gear is still prepared and done by hand. We catch them between depths of 800 and 1300 m, using an artisanal longline fishery, placed horizontally hundreds of metres deep, known as “aparelho de Espada” or “espinhel”.

Madeira West tour scabbard fish madeira fishing boat

Madeiran’s boats are small, made of wood and leave the port early at dusk for several hours. 


Other Facts:

Spawning takes place from September to December – 300,000 eggs per female.

It undertakes a vast scale clockwise migration around the NE Atlantic.

Its diet comprises blue whiting, cephalopods, crustaceans, and shrimps.

Your guide will be happy to tell you more about this species on our Madeira West Tour and recommend the best restaurants on the City Tour. Besides, we have included Espada typical dishes as optional add-ons in our tours. We have chosen Espada fish with banana or Espada fish in wine and garlic. Book your seat here!


Black scabbard fish gastronomic Fair


This gastronomic festival in the beautiful bay of Câmara de Lobos promotes one of the most typical Madeiran specialities, made of black scabbard fish.
It also pays tribute to the fishermen who dedicate themselves to its catch.
You can enjoy the delicious dishes in the various stalls set around the port of the small city.
The entertainment includes live music, traditional dances, and a fireworks display.

How to say it in_

Language Common names
Português Peixe-espada-preta
Deutsch Degenfisch, schwarzer Degenfisch
Español Pez cinto, sable negro
Dansk Sort sabelfisk
Français Sabre, sabre noir
Nederlandse Zwarte degenvis, zwarte-kousenbandvis
English Black scabbardfish, cutlass fish, hairtail, scabbard fish
Norsk Dolkfisk
Svenska Dolkfisk


You can see or try the Espada fish on these tours:


Madeira Food Tour

Gourmet Food & Wine Tour


West Tour Madeira

Funchal City Tour


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