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Billfish Working Group

Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) --- North Pacific

◊ Biological Profile

Swordfish are highly migratory and have a cosmopolitan distribution in tropical, temperate, and sometimes boreal waters, across a range that exceeds 100° of latitude (approximately 60°N to 45°S ). It is the most widely distributed of all billfishes.

North Pacific swordfish are divided into two stocks. Sub-Area 1 is the Western and Central North Pacific (WCNPO) swordfish stock. Sub-Area 2 is the Eastern North Pacific (EPO) swordfish stock. Sub-Area 2 also includes waters north of the equator and south to 20°S, from 155°W and eastward.

Swordfish are apex predators that feed opportunistically. Squids and fishes are major prey items. The maximum size is off Hawaii is about 220 cm in eye-fork length (12 years old) for females and about 200 cm in eye-fork length (11 years old) for males.

  • Life span : At least 12 years
  • Maturity: About 50% at 3 years old
  • Spawning season: April-July
Distribution of swordfish in the North Pacific Ocean.

◊ Fisheries for Swordfish in the North Pacific Ocean

The largest catches of swordfish in the North Pacific Ocean have been taken by Japan for more than five decades. Since about 1990, however, the combined catches of other nations (Chinese-Taipei, Mexico, USA) have approached the Japanese tonnage in several years. The long-term catch trend has been roughly stable except for peaks around 1957-1961 and 1992-1994.
Main fisheries landing striped marlin
by fishinge gear and country.
swo_gear_list - Click to zoom up
Annual landings of swordfish from ISC members in the North Pacific Ocean,
1951-2011.

◊ Stock Status (From ISC13)

Stock projections from 2007-2012 based on Western Central North Pacific Ocean swordfish catch through 2012 show that the stock is not likely to be overfished and is not likely to be experiencing overfishing.

Sub-Area 1 biomass as a fraction of BMSY and harvest rate as a fraction of HMSY
(1952-2006).

◊ Conservation Advice (From ISC13)

The WCPO swordfish stock is healthy and is above the level required to sustain recent catches.