2019 Atlantic Billfish and Swordfish Landings Updates

As of August 20th, NOAA Fisheries finished compiling the second quarter updates for reported billfish (marlin, sailfish, and spearfish) and swordfish landings in the Atlantic. These landings include all billfish and swordfish landed from January 1st, 2019 through June 30th, 2019. 

With the tournament season well under way, a total of 39 blue marlin, 7 white marlin, and no roundscale spearfish have been landed. This is fairly on par with the 2018 second quarter landings, which boasted 37 blue marlin, 5 white marlin, and no roundscale spearfish. As such, there are 204 landings allowed for the remainder of 2019. While we expect these landings to increase from the late summer and fall tournaments, we once again do not expect to hit our 250 quota. 

Species 2019 (Jan 1 – June 30) 2018 (Jan 1 – Jun 30)
Atlantic Blue Marlin 39 37
Atlantic White Marlin 7 5
Roundscale Spearfish 0 0
Total 46 43
Remaining Landings Limit (of 250) 204 62 (188 were reported landed)

For swordfish, as of June 30th, 461.9 metric tons (dressed weight) have been purposefully landed. This comprises 35% of the total swordfish quota. A total of 4.4 metric tons (dw) have been caught as bycatch in commercial fisheries, in addition to the 20.1 metric tons (dw) that have been caught recreationally. Combined, the incidental fishery comprises 8.2% of the swordfish quota. In total, as of June 30th, 486.4 metric tons (dw) of swordfish have been landed, which is 43.2% of the yearly quota. This is up 136 metric tons (dw) from this time last year, when 350.4 metric tons (dw) had been landed between January 1st, 2018 and June 30, 2018.

  2019 (Jan 1 – June 30) Percent of Quota Taken 2018 (Jan 1 – June 30)
Directed Fishery 461.9 mt (dw) 35.0% 333.6 mt (dw)
Commercial Bycatch 4.4 mt (dw) 8.2% 3.1 mt (dw)
Recreational Fishery 20.1 mt (dw) 13.7 mt (dw)
Total 486.4 mt (dw) 43.2% 350.4 mt (dw)

Landings are compiled using self-reported angler reports from the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Non-Tournament Recreational Swordfish and Billfish Landings Database; tournament landings from the Atlantic Tournament Registration & Reporting system; catch card reports from North Carolina and Maryland; and individual billfish intercepted by the Large Pelagic Survey and Marine Recreational Information Program.

Please note that estimates are subject to change due to receipt of updated information (e.g., data from late reporting). As specified in 50 CFR Part 635.27(d) (1), the recreational billfish fishery is limited to a maximum of 250 Atlantic blue and white marlin and roundscale spearfish landings, combined, per year. For swordfish, totals are reported in metric tons dressed weight (1 metric ton is equal to 2,204.6 pounds) and do not include discarded fish.

For more information on landings updates, see the NOAA Fisheries Atlantic Highly Migratory Species webpage. To stay up to date on all things billfish, be sure to subscribe to the TBF newsletter.