Supplemental Gears for Swordfish

Gear Research And Exempted Fishing Permits

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) works to maintain sustainable fisheries and ensure the health of protected species populations by minimizing bycatch in commercial fisheries. As such, the West Coast Region’s Highly Migratory Species Branch is working with various organizations, fishermen, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) to explore gear alternatives for catching swordfish through the use of Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs). These EFPs, authorized by NMFS, allow participants to conduct fishing activities that are otherwise prohibited in federal regulations.

The Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) and Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research (PIER) are researching the use of deep-set longline (DSLL) and deep-set buoy gear (DSBG) as a means to increase participation and avoid unwanted bycatch in the swordfish fishery. Current NMFS-issued EFPs are testing the success and economic viability of alternative gears for swordfish.

Exempted Fishing Permit Application Process

The Code of Federal Regulations outlines the necessary components of an EFP application, and the PFMC and its advisory bodies have provided additional guidance for EFP applicants. EFP applications can be submitted directly to NMFS or to the PFMC for a preliminary review. The PFMC may recommend that NMFS issue an EFP to an applicant, as well as provide input on potential terms and conditions of the permit. NMFS considers the PFMC’s recommendations for an EFP.

Submit EFP applications via email to:

Chris Fanning
NMFS West Coast Region

Stakeholder Meetings and Council Decisions on Swordfish Management and Monitoring

Fishery managers, scientists, fishermen, and representatives of environmental organizations first came together in 2011 to share information and discuss perspectives on the long-term sustainability of the U.S. West Coast swordfish fishery. Stakeholder discussions about the future of the fishery continue in an attempt to balance gear selectivity and efficiency.