NOAA regulations to protect bluefin

03 Dec 2014
New regulations will help Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico and off Cape Hatteras. Credit: NOAA

New regulations will help Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico and off Cape Hatteras. Credit: NOAA

Final regulations to help protect Atlantic bluefin tuna by reducing dead discards and providing measures to help ensure compliance with international quotas have been announced by NOAA.

The measures include areas in the Gulf of Mexico where gear is restricted in April and May (when the species spawns in that area), as well as off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, a prime bluefin feeding ground from December until April.

The new restrictions also include a cap on Atlantic surface longline incidental catch of bluefin.

“The United States is committed to protecting Atlantic bluefin tuna using sustainable, science-based management, and we will continue to be an international leader in its management,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA Fisheries. "These measures allow fishermen to continue fishing for their target species using alternate gear. We are balancing the needs of the fishermen with the recovery of bluefin tuna."

‘Amendment 7’ includes measures to reduce the dead discard of bluefin tuna and improve discard accounting through individual transferable quotas in the pelagic longline fishery, as well as enhanced monitoring and reporting requirements in all fishing categories.

Under the new regulations, fishermen will have a strong incentive to avoid catching bluefin tuna incidentally when pursuing swordfish and other Atlantic tunas, since bluefin tuna catch (landings and dead discards) will be counted against individual longline vessel quotas. Longline fishing for bluefin will cease when the combined landings and discard catch hits the quota.

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