Questionnaire Report for Swordfish

(MERA version 4.1.5)

Brett van Poorten ()


1 About this document

This is a prototype of an automatic report that documents how the user specified the operating model and their various justifications.

2 Introduction

  1. Describe the history and current status of the fishery, including fleets, sectors, vessel types and practices/gear by vessel type, landing ports, economics/markets, whether targeted/bycatch, other stocks caught in the fishery.

“The Atlantic swordfish fishery began commercially in the late 1880s as harpoon sailing vessels fished swordfish throughout Atlantic Canada and eventually expanded their fishery along the annual migration patterns of the eastern seaboard of North America. In the early 1960s, the Atlantic swordfish fishery shifted from a harpoon to primarily a longline fishery and landings increased to a high of approximately 8,000t.” (

“Due to the broad geographical distribution of Atlantic swordfish (SWO-ATL-Figure 1) in coastal and off- shore areas (mostly ranging from 50oN to 45oS), this species is available to a large number of fishing countries. SWO-ATL-Figure 2 shows total estimated catches for North and South Atlantic swordfish. Directed longline fisheries from Canada, EU-Spain, and the United States have operated since the late 1950s or early 1960s, and harpoon fisheries have existed at least since the late 1800s. Other directed swordfish fisheries include fleets from Brazil, Morocco, Namibia, EU-Portugal, South Africa, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The primary by-catch or opportunistic fisheries that take swordfish are tuna fleets from Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea and EU-France. The tuna longline fishery started in 1956 and has operated throughout the Atlantic since then, with substantial catches of swordfish that are produced as a by-catch of tuna fisheries. The largest proportion of the Atlantic catches is made using surface-drifting longline. However, many additional gears are used, including traditional gillnets off the coast of western Africa.”; “For the past decade, the North Atlantic estimated catch (landings plus dead discards) has averaged about 12,000 t per year (SWO-ATL-Table 1). The catch in 2017 (10,046 t) represents a 50.4% decrease since the 1987 peak in North Atlantic landings (20,238 t). These reduced landings have been attributed to ICCAT regulatory recommendations and shifts in fleet distributions, including the movement of some vessels in certain years to the South Atlantic or out of the Atlantic. In addition, some fleets, including at least the United States, EU-Spain and EU-Portugal have changed operating procedures to opportunistically target tuna and/or sharks, taking advantage of market conditions and higher relative catch rates of these species previously considered as by-catch in some fleets. Recently, socio-economic factors may have also contributed to the decline in catch.” (

  1. Describe the stock’s ecosystem functions, dependencies, and habitat types.

“They range from Newfoundland and Labrador to Argentina in the western Atlantic, and from Norway to South Africa in the eastern Atlantic. They are also found in the Mediterranean Sea.” ( They inhabit temperatures from 5-27C and can dive to depths of 200-600m.

  1. Provide all relevant reference materials, such as assessments, research, and other analysis.



3 Fishery Characteristics

3.1 Longevity

Very short-lived (5 < maximum age < 7)
Short-lived (7 < maximum age < 10)
Moderate life span (10 < maximum age < 20)
Moderately long-lived (20 < maximum age < 40)
Long-lived (40 < maximum age < 80)
Very long-lived (80 < maximum age < 160)
“Tagging studies have shown that some swordfish can live up to 15 years.” (Summary Report)

3.2 Stock depletion

Crashed (D < 0.05)
Very depleted (0.05 < D < 0.1)
Depleted (0.1 < D < 0.15)
Moderately depleted (0.15 < D < 0.3)
Healthy (0.3 < D < 0.5)
Underexploited (0.5 < D)
“Tagging studies have shown that some swordfish can live up to 15 years.” (Summary Report)

3.3 Resilence

Not resilient (steepness < 0.3)
Low resilience (0.3 < steepness < 0.5)
Moderate resilence (0.5 < steepness < 0.7)
Resilient (0.7 < steepness < 0.9)
Very Resilient (0.9 < steepness)
B/BMSY: 1.04 (0.82-1.39)