"The recovery of North Atlantic swordfish population clearly shows that good science can go hand-in-hand with good fisheries management," said Dr. Ellen Pikitch, director of WCS's Marine Programs. "This is an incredible victory for conservationists, commercial fishermen, consumers, and -- of course -- swordfish."
WCS began working to protect swordfish in 1999, when it proposed a new method for evaluating swordfish populations for the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICAAT), the agency responsible for managing tunas and swordfish. When WCS scientists Dr. Ellen Pikitch and Dr. Beth Babcock attended an ICCAT swordfish assessment meeting in 1999, they found that North Atlantic swordfish were being depleted by overfishing. They recommended that catches needed to be reduced to a 10,000 metric-ton quota to give the population a chance to recover within 10 years. Along with the quota, areas closed to fishing to protect juvenile swordfish were also adopted by the U.S, to speed rebuilding of swordfish populations.
At the most recent ICCAT meeting in Madrid last month, Dr. Babcock and other scientists evaluated the stocks again, and found that they were rebuilding much more rapidly than expected. The North Atlantic swordfish population is currently at 94 percent of the level at which "maximum sustainable yield" can be produced on a long-term basis.
"If recent catch levels continue, there is more than an 80 percent chance that the population will recover by 2009 or even sooner," said D
Contact: Stephen Sautner
Wildlife Conservation Society