On the U.S. West Coast commercial fishermen catch swordfish using large-mesh drift gillnets and harpoons. There is also an experimental fishery underway in California using deep-set buoy gear and deep-set linked buoy gear. Results from these experiments have been very promising, with low incidents of bycatch. NOAA Fisheries plans to issue a limited number of exempted fishing permits to fishermen for the buoy gear in order to collect more data on how it performs in terms of target and marketable species and incidental bycatch off the coast of California and Oregon.
Swordfish caught by the Hawaii-based shallow-set longline fishery is also landed on the U.S. West Coast, mostly in California. The Hawaii-based longline fishery is the largest source of U.S. West Coast swordfish, accounting for approximately 65 percent of the domestic source of North Pacific swordfish. Each gear is unique in terms of environmental and economic benefits, impacts, and limitations. A diverse portfolio of well-designed gear types and management tools will help fishermen make a living while responding to a changing environmental, regulatory, and economic landscape.
See Swordfish Landings by Fishery, 2008-2017 for U.S. West Coast swordfish statistics by gear type.
NOTE: For the purposes of this project, we will focus on gear used off the California coast by California vessels (harpoon, large-mesh drift gillnet, and buoy gear).