Swordfish recovery a victory in the making
HOUSTON, TX – As proper conservation measures succeed in rebuilding swordfish stocks in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) is calling for a series of additional steps to ensure that the future of this important species is secure – and that a renewed, exciting recreational fishery is assured.
“As more and more recreational anglers realize the availability of these fish and the incredible angling experience they provide, we expect to see more attention drawn to the stock,” said Fred Miller, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “The commercial industry is certain to take a greater interest as swordfish numbers increase. This is a case where conservation has succeeded rather spectacularly, and now it is time to implement additional management measures to ensure the recovery stays on track.”
CCA is currently calling on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to maintain bycatch reduction measures achieved by closing key areas to longlining. Commercial longliners have recently pressured NMFS to open the closed areas in response to difficult economic conditions in their industry. CCA is asking NMFS to refuse to sacrifice the conservation gains made in the closed areas for such narrow economic interests.
Additionally, CCA is calling on all recreational anglers to report their catches of swordfish to the National Marine Fisheries Service in an effort to build a case for a fair allocation in future management of this species. Swordfish is one of numerous species managed by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). If domestic swordfish catches go unreported and the United States fails to meet its swordfish quota, it is likely that ICCAT will divert that unused quota to developing nations, resulting in fewer swordfish allotted to American fishers in the future.
Finally, CCA is requesting that NMFS alter regulations to permit the commercial industry to target swordfish with more selective fishing gear that would allow commercial fishers to optimize their take of swordfish while greatly reducing the destructive bycatch of marlins, sailfish, dolphin, wahoo, sharks and other pelagic species that always accompanies longline operations.
“It has been said that it is far easier to manage a decimated fishery that a recovering one,” said Pat Murray, CCA Vice President and Director of Conservation. “The recovery of swordfish is at a critical point. With the continued application of sensible conservation measures, we can guarantee a healthy population of swordfish that can be enjoyed by anglers for generations.”
CCA is the largest marine resource conservation group of its kind in the nation. With more than 90,000 members in 15 state chapters, CCA has been active in state, national and international fisheries management issues since 1977. Visit www.JoinCCA.org for more information.
CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH