There is a high likelihood that the tuna or swordfish you may have ordered at a supermarket or restaurant sacrificed many billfish in the process. Some fisheries are far better than others when it comes to reducing the capture of non-target species, known as bycatch. It is important to support these fisheries and avoid those that continue to ignore the need for sustainable management.
Although U.S. pelagic longlines and gillnets have high numbers of billfish and shark bycatch, they have strict technology and quota regulations relative to other countries. As a rule of thumb, it’s always safer to choose U.S. caught vs. foreign caught seafood.
Commercial fishing gear and bycatch
Unfortunately, millions of billfish and other highly migratory species (HMS) are caught as bycatch every year by commercial vessels targeting tuna and swordfish. Most commercial vessels deploy fishing gear that cannot discriminate between target and non-target species, such as trawls, longlines, gillnets, or purse seines, leading to bycatch. NOAA conservatively estimated the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic HMS pelagic longline fleet alone caught about 200 metric tons (440,000 pounds) of blue marlin, sailfish, white marlin, and undersized swordfish in 2013. Keep in mind that this is considered one of the more sustainable (large scale) fisheries worldwide due to the U.S.’ strict regulations. Learn more about what you can do to help conserve billfish.
Billfish Safe Seafood Recommendations
Use the table below as a guide for your next order, and remember that it’s never wrong to ask where your fish was caught or take a closer look at the packaging!
Working worldwide to advance the conservation of Billfish & associated species to improve the health of oceans & economies.