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Swordfish

Quality mark Cultivation
/Keurmerk Wild
Green
Second choice
Avoid
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General

Mackerel-like fish

Mackerel-like (Scrombodei) from a subspecies of the Perciformes, the biggest order of fish. Mackerel (Atlantic-, horse mackerel etc), tuna, swordfish and barracudas all fall among the mackerel-like fish. Globally it is a very popular fish and forms an important source of food and income for many people. Mackerel are pelagic fish that live in large schools. While swimming in large schools, mackerel-like fish confuse their predators with the silver-like brilliance from their scales. Island mackerel is the smallest with 2o cm, the largest is the bluefin tuna that can reach a size of over 5 meters.

Swordfish

The swordfish is a remarkable fish with an extremely elongated upper jaw that has the shape of a sword, hence the name swordfish. They most probably use their sword when they hunt by striking, spearing or cutting up their prey. Their sword also contributes to their streamlined body which they need to be fast hunters. Swordfish can grow up to 4,5 m in length and weigh 650 kilograms. Young swordfish live in schools while larger individuals usually live and hunt alone.

 

 

Swordfish

Xiphias gladius
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-west (FAO 21)

Farming- / Catch method

Handlines and pole-lines (hand operated), Harpoons

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

Swordfish are vulnerable to fishing pressure, because they reach sexual maturity quite late. The swordfish stock in the north west Atlantic Ocean is healthy. It is unknown whether there are also swordfish from the Mediterranean, where the stock is in a much worse state, caught in this area for swordfish can swim large distances.

The manual fishery with harpoons and handlines is very selective with little bycatch and no damage to the seabed. Swordfish is at the top of the oceanic food chain. The effect of the large-scale removal of these apex predators is unknown.

The swordfish stock in the north west Atlantic Oceanis managed by ICCAT. The management is largely effective.

Swordfish

Xiphias gladius
Origin

Worldwide

Farming- / Catch method

Drifting longlines, Driftnets

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

Illegal fishery, lack of data, bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
and discardsDiscards:
Unwanted by-catch, which is thrown back because there is no quota, the market price is too low, or the fish is below the legal minimum landing size. Discards can be alive or dead.
are the main problems for swordfish. This species is overfishedOverfished:
A stock is overfished when the stock size has decreased so far that it can no longer produce a maximum sustainable yield. The size of the fish populations is insufficient to reproduce in the long term. 
in many areas. Swordfish are vulnerable to fishing pressureFishing pressure:
Fishing pressure is a result of the fishing effort/amount of fishing on a stock, which determines the fishing mortality. Fishing mortality is the share of the fish stock that dies annually as a result of fishing.
, because reach sexual maturity quite late.

The bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
in the longlineLongline:
Also known as line fishing. A fishing method in which lines and hooks are used.
fishery on swordfish consists of non-target species, damaged fish, undersized fish, tuna, blue shark, birds and sea mammals. The survivability of the discards is low. The use of driftDrift nets:
Gill nets that float on the sea current (with or without boat). Fish get stuck in the nets with their gills. Drift nets are prohibited in European waters. 
nets is prohibited in the Mediterranean due to the impact this fishing method has on sharks, sea turtles, sea birds, and sea mammals. Some countries however keep using this method, which is why the IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) fishery in this area is high.

The managementManagement plan:
A management plan describes the management measures (such as catch limits) and their evaluation for one or more fisheries.
is not effective. The fishery is in some areas regulated with [quotas] and a minimum landing-sizeLanding size:
The length of the landed fish.
. A reasonable amount of swordfish is discarded due to catch limitationsCatch limitations:
Limiting the amount of fish that may be caught (per year).
. Closed areas, minimum sizes and regulation of the fishing effort can be made at national level in the Mediterranean.

 

ASC label

Fish with the ASC label is farmed in a sustainable manner.

MSC label

Fish with the MSC label is caught sustainably.

Good fish

This fish is not being overfished or is being responsibly farmed, with minimal impact on the environment.

Second choice

This fish is a second choice. There are still some improvements to be made in this fishery or fish farm.

Avoid

Do not buy this fish. It's being overfished or the way it's farmed or caught has a negative impact on the environment.

Welfare

There is fish available of this species that is farmed or caught using high welfare standards.

GlobalG.A.P.

GlobalG.A.P. certified farms are doing a step in the right direction in terms of sustainability. A few species with this label are getting a better score on the VISwijzer.

Organic

Organic standards are the strictest when it comes to fish feed. They also require certain measures for animal well-being.