SWORDFISH PELAGIC LONGLINE FISHERY
Lyle Enriquez, Program
Coordinator, NMFS, Southwest Region, 501 West Ocean Bvld., Suite 4200,
Long Beach, CA 90802-4213, (562) 980-4025, Lyle.Enriquez@noaa.gov
Observer Program Mandate and Authority
Mission of the Program: To document the incidental take of
marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, target and non-target fish species, and to collect
selected biological specimens. To collect socio-economic data from vessel
Fishery management: Federal and State (California
Department of Fish & Game).
Mandatory Authority to place observers: Marine Mammal
Protection Act, Category II Fishery
Program duration: October 2001 to present.
Annual program costs: Agency costs US $125,000.
Funding source(s): Federal Government funded.
Government staffing: Management - 2 FTE's (Full Time
Target species: Swordfish.
Other commercially landed species: Tunas (albacore,
bigeye, bluefin), dolphinfish, opah.
Bycatch: Blue shark.
Marine mammals: Risso's Dolphin.
Sea turtles: Loggerhead, Leatherback, & Olive Ridley.
Seabirds: Black-footed & Laysan albatross.
Fleet size: Approximately 24 active vessels. Vessels are
60-85 feet long.
Gear: Vessels typically set 40 miles of mainline, with
approximately 800 hooks attached to evenly spaced dropper lines. Large squid are used as
bait, and chemical light sticks are attached to the dropper line above every other hook.
Season of operation: The majority of the fishing effort
takes place from September through May. Year-round the fishery is closed within 200 miles
of the U.S. West Coast.
Observer Program Management
Brief overview of program structure: The Southwest Region
- Long Beach Office, is responsible for monitoring the California-based swordfish pelagic
longline fishery. Observer training is conducted in conjunction with Southwest Region -
Pacific Islands Area Office, Southwest Fisheries Science Center - La Jolla and Honolulu
Laboratory, NMFS enforcement, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the
fishing industry. By March 2003, 8 biological technicians have been hired, trained and 11
trips (240 sets) completed. Trips typically last 40 days. The Southwest Fisheries Science
Center receives the observer data in conjunction with High Seas Logbook data to estimate
incidental take rates of sea turtles in preparation of annual reports.
Service delivery type and function of each entity: NMFS is
responsible for observer training, debriefing, data entry, and data management. A NMFS
approved contractor is responsible for observer recruitment, monitoring vessel activity,
observer deployment, logistics, insurance/benefits, and delivery of observer data to NMFS.
Vessel owners and operators are responsible for contacting the designated contractor to
make arrangements for mandatory placement of NMFS trained observers aboard their vessels.
Other participating agencies: U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Unit and definition of fishing effort for purpose of
estimating coverage: Longline vessels in this fleet make a single gear haul (e.g., set)
each day. The unit of effort is defined as the number of hooks deployed (i.e., 1,000 hooks
- 1 unit of effort). Currently, during the 2002-03 fishing season: approximately 12% total