Swordfish: Quick Facts

 Scientific name: Xiphias gladius

Other names: broadbill, broadbill swordfish, paea, espadon (France), mekajiki (Japan).

Ranking: E (Red - Worst Choice)

Best Fish Guide: Swordfish

 Ranking: E (Red - Worst Choice)

What's this? 

Alternative Choice: Albacore or Skipjack tuna

Description: Swordfish is a highly migratory species (HMS) of broadbill fish and an important oceanic predator found worldwide in temperate, tropical and subtropical seas. The management responsibility for this species, as with other Western Pacific HMS, lies with an international body – the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries commission (WCPFC). However, the Ministry of Fisheries is responsible for upholding WCPFC rules in New Zealand waters, with catch limits set under the quota management system. They are targeted and caught as a bycatch in the northern bigeye and southern bluefin tuna longline fisheries.

Ecological concerns: Uncertainty about the stock assessments, catch limits and state of the stocks, plus the potential for serial depletion of large swordfish. There is also concern about the bycatch of sharks, seabirds, fur seals and sea turtles. In November 2006, a single surface longline vessel targeting swordfish around the Kermadec Islands caught 51 threatened antipodean albatrosses, 7 white-chinned petrels and 2 sea turtles. Another key concerns is the ecological impacts of removing this key predator species from oceanic food webs. 

Economic value: Main markets are Japan, Australia and USA.  The export value of all tuna and swordfish species combined was $40.1 million in 2008.  Swordfish quota value was $2.9m in 2009.


Biology and risk of overfishing (score C)
Status and sustainability of fish catches (score D)
Impact of fishing method and protected, threatened and endangered species captures (score D and E)
Management and management unit (score C and D)

For a full ecological assessment, click here