New ranking report finds that Canadian surface longline swordfish is unsustainable | Ecology Action Centre

New ranking report finds that Canadian surface longline swordfish is unsustainable


[Halifax, Vancouver] - A new sustainable seafood report, released by the Monterey Bay Aquarium last Friday, March 13, 2015, recommends that consumers avoid swordfish caught by longline in Canadian waters. The aquarium, under its Seafood Watch program, ranks fisheries around the world according to a comprehensive assessment methodology, also used by the Canadian SeaChoice program  The report found that Canadian harpoon-caught swordfish meets the Seafood Watch “Best Choice” criteria and is a recommended fishery, but that the surface longline fishery does not meet this criteria, and should be avoided.

 “We’re not surprised that Seafood Watch has determined that Canadian longline swordfish is not a sustainable choice,” said Catharine Grant at the Ecology Action Centre. “We’ve been warning the public and retailers for years to avoid this fishery due to its bycatch levels, and negative impacts on sharks and turtles. The good news is that the harpoon swordfish fishery, also from Canada, gets the green light again this year due to the low-impact of this fishery on bycatch and the ecosystem.”

The recommendation to avoid the longline swordfish fishery is a direct result of the amount of bycatch of non-target species caught in this Canadian fishery.  According to science estimates, roughly three to five sharks are caught with every one swordfish in this fishery.  In addition, over 1000 endangered loggerhead turtles are caught in this fishery each year.

“The US longline fishery has implemented additional measures to mitigate against bycatch in this fishery, and there’s no reason why Canada can’t meet or exceed global best practices,” said Bill Wareham of the David Suzuki Foundation.  “As a basic step, adequate observer coverage in the fleet, similar to the level we see in US swordfish fisheries, should be required.”

The recommendation to avoid Canadian longline swordfish is not new – despite being Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified, many conservation groups have for a long time raised concerns about the fishery.  This new report, which is an update to an existing Seafood Watch ranking report, determines that concerns related to bycatch have not been sufficiently addressed.

 “We hope that this will be a wake-up call to the industry and to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that they need to make changes if they want to meet sustainability criteria for this fishery,” said Sarah King at Greenpeace Canada.  “No fishery should be allowed to have these kinds of impacts on bycatch species, especially sharks and turtles that are already at-risk.”


 Read the full Seafood Watch report:


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For further information, please contact:


Catharine Grant

Marine Policy and Certification Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre

 902-446-4840 or


Bill Wareham

Western Region Science Projects Manager, David Suzuki Foundation

 604-732-4228 ext. 1251 or


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