- Thomas WarrenHighly Migratory Species Management Division, NOAA Fisheries
National Marine Fisheries Service: Hold the (Long) Line on Proposed Bluefin Tuna Regulations
HELP REDUCE BLUEFIN TUNA BYCATCH
Who hasn’t enjoyed some tuna sushi or a nice tuna steak at some point in their lives? For that reason, bluefin tuna are one the most valuable fish in our global oceans today, which has led to massive depletions from overfishing. Large numbers of bluefin tuna are unintentionally caught on long lines that trail up to 20 miles behind fishing vessels, on which they die and are discarded at sea. Not only are bluefin tuna economically important, but also they are also a top predator and help maintain stable ecosystems.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposal will give fisherman a stronger incentive to avoid accidentally catching bluefin tuna in their long lines, which will help restore the bluefin tuna population. Additionally, the creation of a seasonally protected area in the Gulf of Mexico will ensure that bluefin are not hunted during one of their most critical life stages – during spawning season.
Please help us tell the federal managers of fisheries at the National Marine Fisheries Service to hold the line on their proposal, protecting this economically and ecologically important species. Thank you!!
Photo Credit: Brian J. Skerry/ National Geographic Stock/ WWF
- Highly Migratory Species Management Division, NOAA Fisheries
I support the proposed regulations in the draft of Amendment 7 to the Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan, designed to reduce bycatch discards of bluefin tuna in the long line fishery. As you know, bluefin tuna are a highly valuable and sought-after food source globally, which has resulted in drastic population declines. The lax management of the long line fishery has allowed a large number of unintentionally caught bluefin tuna to die needlessly (as “bycatch”). According to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the western Atlantic bluefin tuna population is two thirds less than the 1970 level, and I believe such an iconic species deserves better treatment.
The regulation and subsequent reduction of bluefin tuna bycatch discards will help rebuild this commercially and ecologically important species. I urge you to use the best available science in determining allowable fishing gear and acceptable fishing areas in the Gulf during key spawning times for the bluefin. Limiting pelagic longlining for boats once bycatch quotes have been reached is a critical tool for ensuring that our fishing fleet does all it can to reduce needless bluefin mortality. I would also urge you to expand both the time and area when the Gulf is closed to longlining to reduce accidental bluefin catches even more than your proposal.
Your decision regarding long line fishing regulations is a very important opportunity to restore this species’ abundance and our oceans to health.
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