Fishermen Encouraged by Proposal to Restore Island Swordfishing

Last night 30 deepwater fishermen from around New England expressed their approval at a meeting in Gloucester for a new proposal to open up swordfishing to rod and reel and harpoon fishermen. Gregory Mayhew and his son Todd, both Menemsha fishermen, attended as did Alex Friedman, president of the Martha’s Vineyard/Dukes County Fishermen’s Association.

New Permits Could Restore Lost Swordfishing Tradition

It was once a symbol of the Island and a principal fish landed on the docks. Swordfish weighing hundreds of pounds were hauled in from Menemsha, Tisbury, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. They lined the docks and fish markets; their tails nailed to the walls of fish shacks bore testament to the fishery’s success. As some fishermen tell it, swordfish were once so abundant they were seen within miles of the shore, as close as Squibnocket and Dogfish Bar.

But those days have long since disappeared.

Time to Sharpen the Harpoon, Swordfishing Proposal Takes Shape

On March 28 in Gloucester, a fisheries hearing will take place regarding perhaps the most iconic and traditional of all Vineyard fish: the magnificent Broadbill Swordfish. The federal government has recently proposed a new open-access permit that would allow small-boat fishermen to retain and sell swordfish caught by rod and reel or harpoon. By strictly regulating large, industrial-scale vessels, U.S. swordfish have recently become a shining example of responsible and successful management, with all current science pointing to fully-rebuilt stocks.

Archival Film of Swordfish Hunt Launches Gazette Initiative

The film is just 23 minutes, 14 seconds long. It’s silent, black and white and there are moments when the images jump around due to the choppiness of the sea — or of the editing. There’s a shot of a man with a long harpoon and dart leaning against the rail of a bowsprit. There’s a wooden keg bouncing over the wave tops toward the horizon.

Record Landings of Swordfish

Fishermen, sightseers and friends filled the Menemsha docks on Wednesday when the fishing boat Quitsa Strider II came in. The word was out. They had hit the jackpot.

Capt. Jonathan Mayhew, 50, of Chilmark and his crew had 31 harpooned swordfish on ice aboard. It has been years since a local fishing boat did so well. Hours later, his brother Gregory Mayhew and his crew on the fishing boat Unicorn landed 16 of the same.

These were big fish: Their average dressed weight was around 200 pounds.

Swordfish Landings In Port of Menemsha Surprises the Island

Fishermen, sightseers and friends filled the Menemsha docks on Wednesday when the fishing boat Quitsa Strider II came in. The word was out. They had hit the jackpot.

Capt. Jonathan Mayhew, 50, of Chilmark and his crew had 31 harpooned swordfish on ice aboard. It has been years since a local fishing boat did so well. Hours later, his brother Gregory Mayhew and his crew on the fishing boat Unicorn landed 16 of the same.

These were big fish: Their average dressed weight was around 200 pounds.

Recovery in Swordfish Industry Follows Strict Management Plan

Top scientists at the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and fish conservation advocates are reporting a significant increase in the numbers of swordfish swimming in the North Atlantic. Although waters around the Vineyard have yet to see any recovery, the numbers of juvenile fish have improved significantly.

Harpooning Swordfish: A Lost Local Tradition?

Harpooned swordfish, once synonymous with the Fourth of July holiday and a staple of the Menemsha fishing fleet, are no longer being caught by Vineyard fishermen.

Though prevalent in local fish markets this season, harpooned swordfish are now all being caught by fishermen from afar.

The reason has to do with a convoluted bureaucracy, an expensive permit system and waning interest in the age-old method of catching fresh swordfish.