U.S. swordfish fishery begins MSC assessment

Sustainable Swordfish LLC, a group involved with about two-thirds of the U.S. East Coast swordfish landings, has entered its North Atlantic swordfish (Xiphias gladius) longline fishery into independent, third-party assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) principles and criteria for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

If successful, swordfish harvested from the area by members of this group will be eligible to display the MSC eco-label. This assessment of the swordfish fishery against the MSC standard is in parallel with a separate full assessment underway for the North Atlantic areas by a group that is already certified for the Southeast U.S. fishery off Florida.

“Our U.S. fishery has led the way in encouraging adoption of sustainable principles, including supporting international harvest reductions and advancing the use of circle hooks and other innovative gear tools and techniques, to rebuild the stock of North Atlantic swordfish,” said Bill Struzziery, resource manager of North Coast Seafoods Corp. and president of Sustainable Swordfish LLC.

The U.S. longline swordfish fishery extends to the North Atlantic Ocean into waters south of Canada and north of the Caribbean. The fishery is open year round and the fishing season is determined by the local availability of swordfish.

North Atlantic swordfish are managed as Atlantic highly migratory species by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and in the United States by the Highly Migratory Species Management Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The 2012 Total Allowable Catch (TAC) established by ICCAT for US vessels is 3,907 metric tons.

“We applaud the commitment of Sustainable Swordfish LLC to responsible harvesting. This is a significant area and important species in U.S. markets,” said Kerry Coughlin, MSC regional director-Americas.

Independent certifier Intertek Moody Marine will conduct the assessment of this fishery against the MSC standard.


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