New historical data for long-term swordfish ecological studies in the Mediterranean Sea

Brian R. MacKenzie*, Teresa Romeo, Piero Addis, Pietro Battaglia, Pierpaolo Consoli, Franco Andaloro, Gianluca Sara

*Corresponding author for this work

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Management of marine fisheries and ecosystems is constrained by knowledge based on datasets with limited temporal coverage. Many populations and ecosystems were perturbed long before scientific investigations began. This situation is particularly acute for the largest and commercially most valuable species. We hypothesized that historical trap fishery records for bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus Linnaeus, 1758) could contain catch data and information for other, bycatch species, such as swordfish (Xiphias gladius Linnaeus, 1758). This species has a long history of exploitation and is presently overexploited, yet indicators of its status (biomass) used in fishery management only start in 1950. Here we examine historical fishery records and logbooks from some of these traps and recovered ca. 110 years of bycatch data (1896-2010). These previously neglected, but now recovered, data include catch dates and amounts in numbers and/or weights (including individual weights) for the time period before and after major expansion of swordfish fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea. New historical datasets such as these could help understand how human activities and natural variability interact to affect the long-term dynamics of this species. The datasets are online and available with open access via three DOIs, as described in the "Data availability" section of the article.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEarth System Science Data
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)5867-5877
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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