The NZ Broadbill Swordfish Fishery.
Swordfish (Xiphias Gladius) exist in New Zealand waters in
numbers, and reach large sizes not to be found elsewhere in the world. In most
parts of the world commercial over-fishing of the resource has reduced stocks to low
levels of small fish.
When Zane Grey visited New Zealand "The Angler's Eldorado" in the 1920s, it was the massive broadbill swordfish which excited him most. He regarded as it as the gamest fish in the seven seas and a man-killer that would charge the boat. He caught the first in New Zealand, setting the local fishing community agog.
While not included under the October 1987 moratorium banning commercial fishing for marlin, swordfish can not be commercially targeted and are limited to 'allowable bycatch' throughout New Zealand's enormous 200 mile exclusive economic zone.
In principle, this reserves swordfish as a recreational species and is the reason for New Zealand's uniquely healthy swordfish population. Commercial tuna fishermen are taking increasing levels of swordfish purportedly as bycatch, but use cylum light sticks while night longlining, which is generally accepted as a method of targeting swordfish. The issue of managing the New Zealand swordfish fishery remains an ongoing and controversial debate.
Although New Zealand has swordfish like nowhere else, it remains a difficult task and admirable achievement to catch one on a rod and reel. The fishing locations are often remote and weather dependant, and the fish possess great power, stamina and determination. Anglers need to be equally determined and committed.
Information from recent captures indicate that swordfish are present around New Zealand throughout the year, contrary to popular belief.
New Zealand swordfish are most often encountered in the area of 100 Kg (220 lb.) to 300 Kg (660 lb.), but fish of far greater size have been observed from gameboats, and as bycatch in trawler nets. Some of the fish captured by trawlers have exceeded 500 Kg (1100 lb.) headed and gutted.
Recent catches include the world record claim 332.4kg (731 lb.) swordfish caught off the Three Kings Islands in April, and eight swordfish over 244 Kg (537 lb.) caught from the Whangaroa vessel PRIMETIME.
This relatively underdeveloped fishery is only now being fully explored by skippers such as John Gregory of PRIMETIME, and a very large fish on rod and reel is anticipated.
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