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International Assessment Shows Again North Atlantic Swordfish Stock Rebuilt

October 31, 2013

A new stock assessment conducted in September 2013 by the scientific committee of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) concluded that the stock of North Atlantic swordfish, a species caught by U.S. fishermen, remains rebuilt at a sustainable population level. The assessment reaffirms that the goal of the Commission’s rebuilding program, set in 1999, was achieved and that the stock has continued to grow. The assessment also predicts that current levels of catch are likely to maintain the North Atlantic swordfish in a rebuilt condition into the future.
 

A healthy stock is excellent news for U.S. fishermen. Along with population recovery, U.S. catch of North Atlantic swordfish in the United States has increased in recent years due to efforts to revitalize U.S. fisheries. For many years there was a gap between the U.S. landings and the U.S. quota. However, in 2012 U.S. landings of North Atlantic swordfish were the highest since the 1990s, while still remaining sustainable.

In addition to bolstering fishing industries, increased catch means more U.S.-caught North Atlantic swordfish is available as a sustainable seafood option for consumers. The current status of North Atlantic swordfish in the United States shows that the fishing rate is sustainable and the population is abundant - that it is not overfished and is above its target population level. Consumers can be sure that by buying North Atlantic swordfish harvested by U.S. vessels, they are supporting a well regulated and sustainably managed fishery.

Background Story

  • In the 1990s, the North Atlantic swordfish population was overfished.
  • Starting in the mid-1990s, the United States reduced landings of North Atlantic swordfish, closed certain fishing grounds, and developed new management measures to help rebuild the stock.
  • In 1999, ICCAT adopted an international rebuilding plan for the North Atlantic swordfish stock.
  • The 2009 assessment found the stock to be rebuilt.