The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) coordinates international management of Atlantic swordfish fisheries. Each year, member nations negotiate the amount of Atlantic swordfish that each nation can harvest. Due to several factors, including regulations in place to maintain the swordfish population and protect other species, U.S. fishermen are not harvesting their entire swordfish quota. Our swordfish fishery is highly monitored - interactions with protected species are counted, and if the count for a certain species reaches its limit, the swordfish fishery could be shut down for the season. Managers are faced with the challenge of finding creative ways to help our fishermen catch their entire swordfish quota and increase the profitability of this rebuilt fishery.
In 2014, NOAA Fisheries introduced a new permit that allows fishermen to keep a limited number of swordfish caught on rod and reel and other actively managed gears. This permit, the Swordfish General Commercial permit, expands access to a greater number of fishermen, providing an opportunity to fish the healthy stock of swordfish with a gear type that is typically low in bycatch. This greater access to the resource could help the United States catch their allocated swordfish quota share. READ MORE