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Swordfish General Commercial Permit Retention Limit Adjustment

December 19, 2018

Effective January 1–June 30, 2019, NOAA Fisheries is adjusting the Swordfish General Commercial permit retention limits in the Northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean regions.

Rick Pearson
Fishery Management Specialist
(727) 824-5399

NOAA Fisheries is adjusting the Swordfish General Commercial permit retention limits in the Northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean regions, as shown in the table below. The default Swordfish General Commercial permit retention limit of zero (0) swordfish in the Florida Swordfish Management Area remains the same.

This action is effective January 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019, unless changed via subsequent action. 

Region Default Retention Limit Per Vessel Per Trip

Adjusted Retention Limit Per Vessel Per Trip

(Jan. 1, 2019-June 30, 2019)

Northwest Atlantic 3 swordfish 6 swordfish
Gulf of Mexico 3 swordfish 6 swordfish
U.S. Caribbean 2 swordfish 6 swordfish
Florida Swordfish Management Area 0 swordfish 0 swordfish 


In deciding these retention limits, NOAA Fisheries considered the inseason retention limit adjustment criteria, which include:  

  • The usefulness of information obtained from biological sampling and monitoring of the North Atlantic swordfish stock.
  • The estimated ability of vessels participating in the fishery to land the amount of swordfish quota available before the end of the fishing year.
  • The estimated amounts by which quotas for other categories of the fishery might be exceeded.
  • The effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the fishery management plan and its amendments.
  • Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of swordfish.
  • The effects of catch rates in one region precluding vessels in another region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the overall swordfish quota.
  • A review of dealer reports, landing trends, and the availability of swordfish on the fishing grounds. 

These limits should provide additional opportunities to harvest the available U.S. North Atlantic swordfish quota without exceeding it and to collect data for stock monitoring purposes.

Who is affected?

These retention limits apply to vessels issued a Swordfish General Commercial permit or a Highly Migratory Species Charter/Headboat permit with a commercial endorsement (only when on a non for-hire trip). All swordfish sold under these permits and retention limits must be to a federally-permitted swordfish dealer.


Figure 1: Final management regions for Amendment 8 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan. 



NOAA Fisheries will continue to monitor the North Atlantic swordfish fishery during 2019. Dealers are required to submit weekly landing reports. Depending on fishing effort and catch rates, additional retention limit adjustments or fishery closures may be necessary to ensure that available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas.

Last updated by Office of Sustainable Fisheries on October 28, 2021