DLH Press Release – 21st November 2009

Din l-Art Helwa is pleased to hear that the EU is proposing new measures to protect diminishing stocks of swordfish (Xiphias gladius). We hear a lot about Bluefin Tuna and measures which are being undertaken to protect its extinction, yet swordfish will be facing the same fate in the near future if something is not done immediately.

Year after year, it is becoming more obvious that our fish stock is decreasing rapidly. Both amateur and professional fishermen are noting that they have to spend more time and effort to catch the same amounts of fish as previous years. What is even more worrying is the fact that fishermen are using nets with smaller mesh sizes and hooks of a smaller sizes.

A visit to open fish markets reveals that a large number of baby swordfish are being caught. The hook size of the long-lines to catch swordfish should be controlled as our fishermen are using small hooks and catching immature fish.

European Parliament legislation limits fishing hook size, the quantity of the swordfish catch and the size and weight of the individual swordfish. Furthermore, no swordfish (Xiphias gladius) fished in the Mediterranean Sea should be caught smaller than 110 cm or 16 kg round weight (weight of the whole fish before processing or removal of any part) or 14 kg gilled and gutted weight (weight after the gills and guts have been removed).

Sustainable fishing must be practiced for the benefit of all concerned if existing stocks are to be preserved. Ultimately, it will be the fishermen who will be the hardest hit because it will be their livelihood that will disappear. It is Government’s responsibility to educate the entire population, producers and consumers alike, about these issues.

Din l-Art Helwa also appeals to the Government to enforce existing European laws that regulate not only the technical aspects of fishing but also the sale of immature swordfish in shops.