New restrictions were announced regarding long-line fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) outlined the new regulations for commercial fishing vessels on Monday to protect the tuna from overfishing concerns.
Beginning in January, the use of long-lines (miles-long fishing lines) on the bluefin tuna will be restricted during certain sensitive times of the year. From April to May, large areas of the Gulf of Mexico will have long-line fishing restrictions, because scientists believe the bluefin tuna spawns during this time frame in the warm coastal waters. The waters off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina will have similar restrictions from December to April because it is a feeding ground for tuna as they migrate north towards Canada.
More from Wide Open Spaces:
The Atlantic bluefin tuna is a very large fish, often weighing hundreds of pounds and stretching nearly six feet long. They are not a federally protected species, but are a species of international concern due to their role in the ocean and value on the worldwide market. One large fish can sell for thousands of dollars to be used mostly as sushi.
Additionally, fishers will now be required to count dead or snagged bluefin tuna they catch on long-lines against their harvest quotas, even if they are pursuing other species such as swordfish or yellowfin tuna.
Many conservationists see these restrictions and regulation changes as a good balance between keeping fishermen in business and conserving the species. However, many fishermen and women view the additional monitoring and reporting restrictions as too strict given the steady harvest in nearby Mexican waters.