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Sustainability and Fresh Swordfish Go Hand-in-Hand

Did you know Boston Sword & Tuna is one of the founding members of Sustainable Seafood LLC?  In August of 2012, Sustainable Seafood LLC applied for sustainable certification of the U.S. North Atlantic longline swordfish fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council. The MSC certification is widely considered to be the gold standard for sustainable seafood certification.

Fresh SwordfishFresh Swordfish Supplied By Sustainable Seafood LLC

The vast majority of North Atlantic fresh swordfish caught in the U.S. are harvested using pelagic longline gear. This hook and line method is considered one of most selective and conservation-oriented fishing methods used commercially worldwide.

Our two longliners, the Iron Maiden and the Iron Lady, fish in one of the best-managed fisheries in the world: the Northwest Atlantic swordfish fishery. A highly migratory fish, fresh swordfish are managed in the Atlantic by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). 

In the 1990s, North Atlantic swordfish stocks were steadily declining. Predominantly a result of international fishing pressure, the stock size was estimated to be at 58% of optimum levels. Therefore, a call to action was blatantly required in order to reverse this trend and preserve the swordfish population.

Today, fresh swordfish stocks in the Northwest Atlantic are fully recovered due to strict management of the fishery. These measures include:

  • Strictly enforced minimum size restrictions, ensuring that all swordfish are provided the opportunity to reproduce and secure the population.
  • Closure of large areas to avoid catching small swordfish.
  • Requirement that all swordfish boats must have vessel monitoring systems onboard to make certain they do not fish in closed areas.
  • Strict enforcement of the U.S. quota (in fact, the U.S. sword fleet has failed to catch its entire quota in recent years due to the many management measures being enforced).
  • The use of more environmentally friendly circle hooks on longlines, which has reduced the U.S. fleet's interaction with sea turtles by 90 percent.

Although the North Atlantic fresh swordfish stock is fully rebuilt today due to effective international actions, international management remains a complicated task. Nevertheless, it is the only adequate and rational option to preserve this high commodity fish.

Michael J. Scola

While earning his degree in business, Michael spent summers and winters working the floor at Boston Sword & Tuna and learning the seafood business from the ground up. As a fifth-generation fishmonger and handled different species, lumped sword and tuna, sorted through vats of haddock and cod, broke down salmon cases, graded the fish, and more. During this time, Mike was a veritable sea sponge, learning from the most-experienced seafood professionals in the game while acquiring the tools needed to be successful in this gritty industry.