Swordfish - Xiphias gladius

Other Names: Broadbill

Sustainable Fishing Methods: Harpoon

Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Rating: Best Choice

Biological Information: Swordfish is a fast swimming predatory fish that gets its name from its long, flat, swordlike bill. Swordfish are unique in that they use their acute eyesight to locate prey and then using their swordlike bill, they are able to stun their prey knocking them unconcious. Swordfish undertake daily vertical migrations following their prey (squid, fish and shrimp) up and down different water depths depending on light availability. They make long seasonal migrations during the summer to temperate seas in search for food and back to warmer waters in the winter for reproduction. Although Swordfish make long seasonal migrations, they mainly rely on the prevailing ocean currents to carry them instead of actively swimming. Swordfish are considered a pelagic species, often seen swimming near the surface far out at sea. Adult Swordfish have no scales or teeth and their white colored flesh has enabled them to evolve to have sudden bursts of energy while in pursuit of their prey with speeds up to 60 mph. Female Swordfish grow to be larger than males and can release millions of eggs at a single time. When they are born they are only a few millimeters long but go through an amazing body transformation which can increase their body weight by at least a million times. Swordfish has a firm, dense and fine flesh that has a meat like texture. It can be mildly sweet and moist due to its high fat content with flesh that ranges in color from ivory to pinkish orange and turning beige once cooked.

Sustainability: Swordfish are an apex predator, meaning that not many animals besides tooth whales, large sharks and humans are capable of catching and consuming them. By harpooning Swordfish you eliminate all bycatch and environmental degradation and because fish are caught one by one there is less pressure on their overall population. California stocks are considered healthy but their migratory nature leaves them susceptible to pressure from unregulated vessels outside of US waters. Concerns over by-catch and lost gear in the drifting gill net and long line fisheries means that care should be taken when purchasing from an unverified source.

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