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    Broadbilled swordfish,

    Harvesting Swordfish
    U.S. commercial fishermen mainly use pelagic longline gear to harvest swordfish. They also
    sometimes use handgear (rod and reel, harpoon, and buoy gear). When fishing for swordfish,
    fishermen generally deploy pelagic longline gear at sunset and haul it back in at sunrise, taking
    advantage of swordfish’s habit of feeding near the surface at night. Fishermen often use lightsticks,
    which contain light emitting chemicals, to attract baitfish which in turn may attract predators like

    Pelagic longline gear and handgear have no impact on habitat because they’re used in the water
    column and don’t come into contact with the ocean floor. Handgear used to catch swordfish is very
    selective and bycatch is minimal.

    Pelagic longlines used to catch swordfish can incidentally catch protected species like marine
    mammals and sea turtles. Fishermen fishing with pelagic longline gear follow a number of strict
    regulations to prevent bycatch:

  • They are required to use large circle hooks and certain types of bait that limit gear interactions with
    sea turtles. Circle hooks are specifically designed to minimize the damage caused by hooking,
    giving animals that are captured and released a better chance at survival.
  • Fishermen are trained to use special techniques to safely dehook and disentangle turtles if they are
    accidentally caught.
  • They are also required to stop fishing and move 1 nautical mile if they encounter a protected
  • To protect pilot whales and Risso’s dolphins, pelagic longline vessels fishing in the Mid-Atlantic
    Bight must limit the length of their lines to 20 nautical miles and post marine mammal
    handling/release guidelines on their vessel. In addition, if fishing in the Cape Hatteras Special
    Research Area, pelagic longliners must contact NOAA Fisheries at least 48 hours prior to a trip and
    carry observers if requested.
  • In Gulf of Mexico, longline fishermen must use weak hooks to reduce accidental catch of bluefin
    tuna and may not use live bait in order to reduce bycatch of billfish.
  • Huge areas of the Gulf of Mexico are also closed to longline fishing to reduce bycatch of all species,
    especially undersized swordfish.
  • Longline fishermen must carry vessel monitoring systems (satellite technology) onboard their
    boats to enforce these closures.
  • NOAA Fisheries monitors the pelagic longline fishery for interactions with protected species
    through at-sea fisheries observers on a quarterly basis and reviews data for appropriate action, if
    any, as necessary.

    Recreational fishermen have fished for swordfish off the U.S. East Coast since the 1920s and
    currently harvest approximately one percent of the swordfish caught every year by the United States.
    The recreational fishery for highly migratory species like swordfish is managed under the same
    plan as the commercial fishery. U.S. recreational fisherman must have a permit to catch swordfish.
    There are minimum sizes of fish they can catch as well as limits on how many they can catch.
    Certain areas are closed to fishing. Recreational fishermen must also report their swordfish catch
    or if they release it, they must release it without removing the fish from the water in a manner that
    ensures it has a good chance of survival once released.

    More about the Swordfish
    More about the Swordfish species
    Swordfish Fishery
    Swordfish - the Seafood

Florida Keys Fish
Florida Keys Fish - Swordfish
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