Longlining, Overfishing & Atlantic Swordfish
Steven BerkeleyMarine biologist, University of Santa Cruz
Because the stock is so badly overfished, you really want to reduce fishing mortality on both old spawning fish as well as young fish to allow the population to recover. Now you really need to protect both the nursery areas as well as reduce fishing mortality, on the older, mature fish population.
There are still significant quantities of swordfish being landed, but the population is declining and cannot sustain these levels of harvest. Most of these fisherman weren't fishing when the populations were at their unfished levels or anywhere near unfished levels. There may be plenty of swordfish compared to last year, or almost as many swordfish as last year. But it depends on how long a history you look back on. The population is much smaller than it used to be and it's smaller in terms of the average size of the fish in the population as well.
Louis LarsenRetired commercial fisherman, Massachusetts
Years ago we'd average out, it was never less than 200, they were always averaged out at 250, 275. We even had one trip that we averaged out 380 pounds, they were all big fish and they were all beautiful fish. So that's what we were catching, just the big ones and let the little ones go.
Most of these people that got into it lately don't know what fishing was like. The only way to really do it is to stop it. Stop it completely. But compensate the fishermen and train them to be something else for a number of years till it comes back.
Dave HortonMcClean's Seafood, Massachusetts
We just had a trip come in last week with about 55,000 pounds of swordfish with a 120-pound average weight. It was one of the better trips we've had in a couple of years. The fishery is coming back. I don't think we're at maximum sustainable yields but we're getting pretty darn close. It's being very well managed here in the United States.
There may be some instance of some over fishing with some of the countries in the eastern part of the North Atlantic, like Spain and Portugal. Even though we're all living under a quota situation and reduced quotas, I don't believe the enforcement on those fleets may be as adequate there as it is here in the United States.