The Government Relations Committee from the CCA California State Board of Directors recently submitted a letter to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) in support of their final authorization of the deep-set buoy gear (DSBG) swordfish fishery. This type of gear specifically targets swordfish very successfully at depth, and stands out because of its low bycatch and live release ability. Exempted fishery permit activity already has yielded a 98% marketable catch rate over the past six years of research and experimentation.
A recommendation has also been brought forth to the Council in the letter, which is also co-signed by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) and Wild Oceans:
In consideration for the economics of the fishery, as well as for the cultural and social framework relevant to the fishery and affected fishing communities, to authorize 50 permits in the first year, and no more than 25 permits annually with a maximum of 300 permits, or if the National Marine Fisheries Service determines that less permits are necessary to ensure compliance with the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. By starting with a 50 boat fishery that increases annually, we can identify any significant issues as they arise and make modifications, such as time-area closures, to accommodate recreational fishing activity, tournaments or other high profile, high value events.
A limited entry fishery, starting with 50 vessels, will foster an economically as the DSBG swordfish market, like the harpoon caught market, pays fishermen a higher price per pound than drift gillnet, longline, or imported swordfish. This reflects the high quality of deep-set buoy gear caught swordfish and low ecological footprint. By phasing in this fishery, the Council can support steady market growth and ensure supply does not outpace demand.