||North Atlantic Swordfish
Show Dramatic Recovery
| January 2003|
New scientific assessment shows that when "given a break"
fish can rebound; Give Swordfish a Break Campaign organizers
jubilant over findings...
Washington, October 3, 2002 -- North Atlantic swordfish
have recovered to 94% of levels considered healthy over
the last three years, according to a new report issued
by the scientific arm of the International Commission
for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.
In 1998, Give Swordfish a Break organizers SeaWeb and
the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), along with
other conservation organizations, successfully advocated
for recovery measures to restore north Atlantic swordfish.
North Atlantic swordfish had been severely depleted after
decades of overfishing and mismanagement. The new report
is the first assessment of north Atlantic swordfish since
those measures, which included reduced international quotas
and protection of swordfish nursery areas in the United
States, were adopted.
"This report shows that if we give fish a break, they
can recover," said Lisa Speer, senior policy analyst with
NRDC. "This is a real victory for swordfish and shows
that we can restore seriously depleted fish."
"All the participants in the Give Swordfish a Break campaign
can feel incredibly proud that their actions helped make
the difference for this fish," said Vikki Spruill, executive
director of SeaWeb. "Overfishing and busi
ness as usual is not acceptable. This recovery shows that
making tough decisions pays off."
The campaign officially ended in August 2000 when the
U.S. government closed nursery areas in U.S. waters, thus
meeting the second goal of the campaign. International
quota restrictions were adopted in 1999.
Give Swordfish a Break was the first large effort to mobilize
chefs and consumers to support stronger fish conservation.
Over the course of the campaign, hundreds of chefs signed
the Give Swordfish a Break pledge, while others the Peabody
hotel chain, cruise lines, grocery stores, airlines, and
uncounted others agreed to remove north Atlantic swordfish
from their menus and dining choices.
"When SeaWeb and NRDC first approached me about this campaign,
I knew I had to participate," said Nora Pouillon of Restaurant
Nora and Asia Nora in Washington D.C. "I knew there was
a problem just watching swordfish get smaller and smaller
in the markets Đchanges had to be made. It is wonderful
that the initial result of these changes are positive,
but we need to continue to stay the course . I can't wait
to see the large fish come back."
"We saw striped bass come back in the 1980's after we
stopped fishing them for a time. Now it's swordfish,"
said Rick Moonen of restaurant RM in New York. "As a restaurateur,
I need to make sure my seafood supply is stable into the
future. This is a victory for consumers who love seafood
and we need more victories like this."
Next month, the International Commission for the Conservation
of Atlantic Tunas will meet to decide whether to maintain
lower quotas that sped the recovery, or to permit overfishing
of swordfish to resume. Members of the commission include
the United States, Japan, Spain, and other major fishing
"The United States needs to ensure that this hard won
victory for swordfish doesn't vanish under pressure from
other countries to raise quotas," said Speer. "The recovery
is fragile and uncertain, and renewed pressure could easily
take us back to the bad old days of depleted stocks and
NRDC and SeaWeb also voiced strong support for retaining
protections for swordfish nursery areas, which are critical
to the recovery. The adult swordfish population has recovered
only slightly in the past several years, and majority
of fish are juveniles that have not had the chance to
reproduce. Finally, the two groups are concerned that
if swordfish quotas are increased, longline gear used
to catch swordfish will also increase. Longlines catch
and kill many other ocean creatures, including sea turtles,
birds and other fish, such as marlin. For all these reasons,
it is important to retain strong conservation and recovery
measures domestically and internationally, the groups
"Give Swordfish a Break served to raise awareness to the
problems of overfishing and showed consumers that making
better seafood choices is good for the ocean, good for
the fish, and good for the fishermen," said Spruill. "We
hope consumers will continue to make seafood choices that
are good for the environment."
Many conservation organizations worked to save north Atlantic
swordfish including the Ocean Wildlife Campaign, which
consists of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Wildlife
Conservation Society, National Audubon Society, National
Coalition for Marine Conservation, The Ocean Conservancy,
and World Wildlife Fund; along with Oceana.
Article courtesy of SeaWeb. SeaWeb is a project designed
to raise awareness of the world ocean and the life within
it. For more information visit their web site www.seaweb.org