Swordfish is a highly migratory species, capable of swimming across entire oceans, and is found around the world in tropical, temperate, and sometimes cold waters of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. The Gulf is an important nursery area for North Atlantic swordfish. Gulf fishermen harvest about 14% of the total U.S. commercial catch of this species.
Unlike non-migratory species that are only found off our coasts, we’re not the only ones that fish for swordfish. Fisheries for these species require both strong domestic management and international cooperation to ensure the resource is abundant and global harvests are sustainable. NOAA Fisheries Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Management Division is the federal authority responsible for monitoring and managing this resource in U.S. waters. They set regulations based on recommendations from the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.
Any applicable state management measures are fairly consistent with federal measures—some states automatically adopt federal regulations; others have separate regulations. Gulf state and federal enforcement agents partner to enforce fisheries laws and regulations. The Gulf states also help collect data on commercial and recreational swordfish fisheries, providing important information to support management of this valuable resource.
For more information about swordfish, including its status, biological information, and a description of the fishery and how it’s managed, see NOAA’s FishWatch.gov.