NOAA reports massive longline bluefin tuna waste
U.S. surface longline fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean caught and discarded enough bluefin tuna in 2012 to waste almost 25 percent of the entire U.S. bluefin tuna quota for last year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Fisheries Service.
The data has prompted NOAA Fisheries to prohibit surface longline vessels from keeping bluefin tuna — caught intentionally or not — for the rest of 2013, starting on 25 June.
NOAA Fisheries said in a release that longline vessels discarded about 239.5 metric tons (MT) of dead Atlantic bluefin last year, the highest level of bluefin dead discards since 1987. The longline vessels, according to NOAA, are discarding bluefin in favor of swordfish, yellowfin tuna and other types of tuna. Now, no longline fishermen, including those who might be fishing for bluefin, will be able to keep them.
Fisheries managers and scientists are expected to meet in Montreal on 26-28 June to discuss how to aid in the bluefin stock recovery. NOAA suggested closing the Gulf of Mexico to all surface longlines, to protect the bluefin spawning grounds, improve surface longline monitoring and encouraging a change from surface longlines to other fishing practices.