PIER researchers have teamed up with NOAA's Cooperative Research Grant Program and the California Fisheries Research Program (CFR-West) to document swordfish movement patterns and trial alternative gears in the waters above Point Conception, CA. This work collaborates with researchers (Dr. Heidi Dewar and Dr. Suzy Kohin) from NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) as well as scientists (Craig Heberer) from NOAA's Southwest Region (SWR).
From the early 1980's through 2000 most of California's swordfish landings came from the productive waters above Point Conception in the fall months. These landings, were almost entirely from the California drift-gillnet fishery (CA-DGN). Since 2000 DGN fishers have been restricted to fish from Point Conception to the Oregon border during the peak of their fishing season. This regional closure was enacted due to the concern over interactions with leatherback sea turtles.
This two-year grant focuses on documenting swordfish movement patterns (vertical and horizontal) within the closure area and identifing ways to increase gear selectivity for swordfish. This study will also use the movement data to configure and trial alternative gear types, such as deep-set buoy gear (DSBG), within the region.
To date, the PIER team has tagged thirteen swordfish within the study area and they are now focused on tailoring the experimental gear for the second year deployments.