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One of the fastest and largest predators, swordfish have bodies that allow them to reach up to 50 mph. It is one of several large species known as billfish, which use their bills to slash at and stun their prey. They have unique features, such as special eye muscles and a heat exchange system...
One of the fastest and largest predators, swordfish have bodies that allow them to reach up to 50 mph. It is one of several large species known as billfish, which use their bills to slash at and stun their prey. They have unique features, such as special eye muscles and a heat exchange system that allows them to swim into deep waters for prey. Also, unlike fish, adults have no teeth or scales. Their hunting abilities allow them to grow quickly, reaching up to 15 feet in length and weighs of up to 1,400 pounds. Swordfish reach maturity at five to six years of age and spawn several times in the Spring and Summer in temperate waters off the Californian coast. They are great nomads, they can be found in all the oceans of the world, migrating thousands of miles every year. They feed on fish and invertebrates, such as squid and jellyfish.
Swordfish are at the top of the food chain, rarely preyed by other animals except for humans, though juveniles can be attacked by sharks and other large predators. One of the most well known behaviors of swordfish is their spectacular and powerful jumping abilities, also known as breaching.
Lifespan: 9 years
Size: Up to 15 ft and 1,433 lbs
Distribution: Travel mainly in mid-water depths, but can swim down to 650+ meters
How fished: Harpoon, rod and reel, gillnet, pelagic longline, and deep-set buoy gear
Why sustainable: The North Pacific population of swordfish is above its target population level and is harvested at sustainable levels. Harpoon and hand-line caught swordfish have little to no bycatch. The drift gillnet fishery for swordfish off California has also implemented many measures to reduce bycatch. This includes onboard observers in the drift gillnet fishery. Regulations prohibit fishing with drift gillnets north of Point Conception, California, from August 15 through October 31 to protect leatherback sea turtles. Regulations also include specific gear requirements for drift gillnets (e.g., pingers that emit sound to deter marine mammals, and net extenders that drop the net below the surface to allow marine mammals to pass without being entangled). Finally, if the fishery hits a certain level of bycatch the fishery is closed down for the rest of the year.
MBA Seafood Watch Rating: Best Choice - Harpoon or Handline
Good Alternative - Drift Gillnet or Longline
NOAA FishWatch Rating: Not overfished Nutrition (per 100g): Calories 121, Total Fat 4.01g, Cholesterol 39mg, Selenium 48.1mcg, Sodium 90mg, Protein 19.8g