Barry Marx is a commercial swordfish fisherman in New England.


How's fishing right now for you?

So far it's been good this year. No better or worse than it has been in the past.

Are the closures affecting you at all?

The closures that they decide on -- whether we've caught too many turtles, or are they going to make an issue out of it -- they go from judge to judge 'til they find one that agree with environmentalists and they just shut us down. It isn't grand.

Swordfish breeding areas are some of the places that have been closed down. Has it been your experience that you've caught a lot of small swordfish?

We don't work in those areas. We work with the distant water fleet, way off to the east, where the bigger fish live. That hasn't affected us at all.

Has the size of the fish you've been catching stayed the same?

In the last trip, the swordfish averaged 90-pounds, which is an improvement over what it has been in the past. But from trip to trip it varies. A lot of times it'd be 70-pound average swordfish, other times it'd be 90 pounds, and sometimes 130 pounds. It jumps around a lot according to the area and the time of the year.

Is 90 pounds the minimum?

The minimum is 33 pounds. A fish under 33 pounds or 29 inches in length are illegal to bring in.

Where do you guys go fishing?

Right now we're heading for the Grand Banks, just like in the movie, The Flemish Cap.

Some of these environmental groups are leading a boycott swordfish. What do you think about that?

The only thing that has really served to do is it practically destroyed our industry. As far as conservation, it accomplished nothing.

What kind of an impact are the environmental groups having on you and the industry?

As far as I can see, the environmental outfits haven't done anything as far as improving the condition of the fish or anything of that nature. Our own group, the Blue Water Fishermen's Association, has been involved in this from the beginning. And most of the recommendations that we've recommended have been carried forward and a lot of the regulations have been based on that. Of course, a lot of the environmentalists come along right afterwards and say it was because of their idea. That's the way it works.

So you are about to go out. Are you anticipating catching a lot fish?

We're hoping to get at least 30,000 pounds of swordfish this trip. That's the idea. That'll give us a decent settlement at the end of the trip. The average swordfish size is increasing and they are more abundant. Of course in certain areas there's a lot more small fish, not areas that we fish, but there's a lot more small fish around.