Swordfish season could re-open later this year
A sudden end to the "Swordfish Season" for Hawaii long-liners. Not because the fish stock is running low, instead, it is because of run-ins with another ocean creature. Now Hawaii's swordfish season could get a second wind.
A sudden end to the "Swordfish Season" for Hawaii long-liners, but not because the fish stock is running low.
Instead, it is because of run-ins with another ocean creature.
While those fishing boats are now idle, Hawaii's swordfish season could get a second wind.
Alicia's Market in Kalihi is known for its seafood, that including the swordfish it sells.
"I dry my swordfish. I have smoked swordfish, and I use a lot of the fresh nairagi," said Leonard Kam, the owner of Alicia's Market.
Hawaii's long line fishing boats are no longer reeling them in as swordfish season has come to an end.
"This year the swordfish industry is closed, it closed about two weeks ago," stated Eric Kingma the Executive Director for the Hawaii long line Association.
Not only do the Hawaii boats bring back the fish for our islands, they supplies 50% of the swordfish to the rest of the country.
But those boat had to suddenly shutdown because of 17 loggerhead turtles, which are an endangered species.
They also tend to be attracted to the long line bait set out for swordfish.
Which is why Hawaii boats have a limit on their interactions.
"They're required to use certain types of hooks and gear that helps minimize the interactions. Every single turtle is observed and all the turtles that have been caught have been released alive," said Asuka Ishizaki, with the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.
17 interaction is the maximum of interactions allowed this year, which is why the swordfish season ended early.
"The swordfish market was higher a couple of months ago, but now it is good price. Now you tell me about the season ending, the price is going to shoot up already," said Kam.
Fish hungry Hawaii residents will still be able to get swordfish though.
While Hawaii ships won't be fishing for them, thousands of other boats from countries around the pacific will.
Many lined up just outside U.S. waters, which could mean more problems for loggerhead turtles.
"Those foreign fisheries are less monitored and regulated than U.S. fisheries and so the environmental impact will be greater with foreign fisheries than U.S. fisheries," stated Kingma.
Many of the long line operators will re-gear their boats then join the rest of Hawaii's fleet fishing as they hunt for ahi, ono and other open ocean fish. All told, they help reel in $100 million of seafood in Hawaii annually.
"It is the #1 food producing industry in Hawaii, so it is critically important to local residents and the economy," added Kingma.
Swordfish boats may also get a second chance at their catch this season.
The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will meet this week, to look at new scientific data that could end up raising the turtle interaction numbers. If that happens, swordfish season could reopen before the end of the year.