Good news – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service, or NOAA Fisheries, has finalized a new fishery management plan amendment that will significantly reduce the waste of depleted Atlantic bluefin tuna from surface longline fishing gear. This is due to more than five years of hard work, plus your input signing ORI letters and most especially personal comments.
We need your assistance in gaining approval of the Amendment 7. NOAA Fisheries’ new amendment will provide bluefin tuna with valuable protections in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean that will help end waste and encourage more selective fishing. For decades, the U.S. surface longline fishery has incidentally caught and killed large numbers of bluefin tuna annually. These fish are mostly thrown back, usually dead.
Final Amendment 7 will be a significant improvement. Three new gear-restricted areas will reduce bycatch of spawning bluefin tuna and eliminate more than 67.2 metric tons of incidental bluefin mortality. NOAA Fisheries will have the ability to close the surface longline fishery once the subquota is exhausted.
NOAA Fisheries will hold individual surface longline vessels accountable for their bluefin bycatch by including 100 percent video monitoring and two-way reporting during surface longline fishing.
Unfortunately, the rule includes some harmful measures, including reallocation of bluefin quota from other selective gear categories and expanding opportunities to land sport-caught bluefin in the Gulf, that, if removed would further strengthen Amendment 7.
We support Final Amendment 7 because it will create new protections in areas of high bluefin abundance, effectively reduce and control unwanted bluefin mortality in the U.S. surface longline fishery overall, and improve the availability, timeliness, and accuracy of fishery data.
Together these measures will support the rebuilding of depleted Atlantic bluefin tuna and allow continued fishing opportunities for U.S. bluefin fishermen. Let’s act to implement Final Amendment 7.