Tagged Victorian swordfish recaptured in QLD after 387 days

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NSW DPI’s Game Fish Tagging Program got a call from a Queensland seafood wholesaler who reported a very exciting recapture. One of its longline boats, FV Calibre, had caught a tagged swordfish while fishing the Fraser Seamount off the southern Queensland coast.

The fish had been released more than year earlier by NSW-based swordfish tagging champion, and Fisho writer, Chris Cleaver, who tagged the swordy while deep-dropping the productive fishing grounds off Mallacoota, Victoria.

Chris tagged the estimated 18kg fish on 13 May 2017 whilst fishing at 500m using a strip bait. After a few photos, he quickly released it back to the depths.

The broadbill was recaptured earlier this month by FV Calibre, which was fishing the wide grounds off Fraser Island, and was processed at a weight of 26.7kg with an estimated whole weight of 36kg.

The fish had spent a total of 387 days at liberty, and was caught more than 881 nautical miles (1630 km) from where it was released.

Only 185 broadbill swordfish have been tagged under the program since its beginnings in 1973.

This recapture is the fourth Australian broadbill swordfish to be recaptured. Considering its modest size, it's remarkable to realise that it's also the largest sword to be recaptured so far.

Also, it’s the only broadbill to be recaptured outside of NSW with the previous three recaptures coming from small fish released and recaptured in NSW waters. It smashes the previous furthest distance travelled for the species and also marks the longest time at liberty.

To date, Chris has been involved in the tagging of eight swordfish aboard his centre console, however, this was actually the first swordfish he'd caught himself; it was also by far the smallest caught from Chris' boat from Victorian waters.

This newly emerging day time deep drop fishery is very exciting for east coast anglers and it’s great to see conservation-minded anglers helping contribute to our knowledge of the fishery by tagging these remarkable and mysterious gamefish.

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