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NOAA Considering Fishing Ban on Pacific Bluefin Tuna

PACIFIC

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) Administration has opened a public process to decide whether to ban Pacific bluefin tuna fishing.

All species of bluefin tuna are at risk of extinction from overfishing. Today, Pacific bluefin populations are at roughly 4 precent of their historic average. Atlantic and southern bluefin are listed as endangered and critically endangered, respectively.

The NOAA’s decision to consider a commercial and recreational Pacific bluefin is a response to an April petition from the Center for Biological Diversity seeking federal protections for the species. Now, the NOAA is considering what measures are appropriate to protect Pacific bluefin from being wiped out.

“This initiation of this important process provides a glimmer of hope in a sea of bleak news for Pacific bluefin tuna,” said Catherine Kilduff of the CBD. “Saving Pacific bluefin tuna from the world’s insatiable appetite for sushi requires action at all levels, starting with protection in U.S. waters.”

A big part of the problem is that most of the Pacific bluefin caught in recent years have been juveniles under 2 years old and 3 feet long. Bluefins take a couple years to mature and can live as long as 20 years. Today, the worldwide population of adult Pacifc bluefins is drastically low, which means they’re reproducing less and less.

Here’s another data point to consider: Pacific bluefin populations have decreased 96 percent since large-scale fishing efforts to catch the species began in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. That’s a massive decline, and it points to overfishing as the root of the problem.

Commercial fishing isn’t the only threat to bluefin. According to KCET.org, sport fishing accounts for more of the annual U.S. Pacific bluefin catch than commercial fishing. If the NOAA does make a move to change recreational Pacific bluefin fishing, it may only be a catch and release requirement.

What do you think about this issue? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

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NOAA Considering Fishing Ban on Pacific Bluefin Tuna