NOAA Increases Commercial Swordfish Retention

Management areas affected by the expansion, courtesy of NOAA

NOAA Fisheries is doubling the number of swordfish allowed to be harvested by commercial fisheries. These expanded retention limits apply to vessels issued a Swordfish General Commercial permit or an Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a commercial endorsement when on a non-for-hire trip. Fortunately, commercial swordfish harvest is still prohibited in the Florida Swordfish Management Area. However, this new expansion may significantly affect swordfish stocks in all other NOAA Management Areas.

New retention limits for US Atlantic swordfish, courtesy of NOAA

This massive expansion of the commercial quota comes as no surprise. NOAA Fisheries has been pushing to expand the harvest of commercially important species in order to bolster the US fishing industry and lessen America’s reliance on seafood imports. What this will mean for the health of bycatch species, like marlin, sea turtles, and marine mammals, is unknown.

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