Highly migratory fishes (e.g., tunas, swordfish, sharks and billfish), that don't limit their range to one country or region's waters, require international cooperation to ensure their conservation.
In the 1990s, Atlantic swordfish populations were severely depleted due to overfishing and mismanagement. U.S. conservation groups mobilized consumers and hundreds of influential chefs to "Give Swordfish a Break" and stop eating these fish until better international management practices were in place. In part, as a result of these efforts, in 1999 the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which oversees the fishery, recommended that member countries reduce catches of North and South Atlantic swordfish by 45 percent. In 2001 and 2002, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) also implemented a swordfish protection plan that placed swordfish nursery grounds off-limits to fishing. With stringent enforcement measures in place, the decline in North Atlantic swordfish stocks was halted.
Since 1999, North Atlantic swordfish have recovered to 99 percent of levels considered healthy and South Atlantic swordfish appear to have fully recovered to healthy levels. As a result of these actions, U.S. Atlantic swordfish, once on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's "Avoid" list, moved into the "Good Alternative" list, reflecting the success of these rebuilding efforts.