Amendment 13 – Bluefin Tuna
Currently, the NMFS is considering making many changes to the fishery management plan for Atlantic
Highly Migratory Species (HMS) – Bluefin Tuna. Redistributing tonnage allocations to each managed
Fishing Category, including the Angling Category, and modifying fishing areas are two of the potentially
most impacting options. The Incidental recreational bluefin allocation of trophy-size fish in the Gulf of
Mexico, which averages between 5-8 fish a season depending on weight, is most at risk since the Gulf of
Mexico is a spawning ground. Though, spawning ground concerns seem to be dismissed in another
option, which could authorize permitted Atlantic longline vessels to fish on the same spawning ground.
If the Angling Category is authorized more tonnage in all sizes and areas, especially with trophy-size
bluefin in 3 current authorized areas, the U.S. would likely come closer to landing all of its international
bluefin share. Landing all of the tonnage allocated the U.S. is needed to prevent any unused tonnage
from being transferred to other nations. Authorizing more longline gear in the Gulf of Mexico rather
than increasing tonnage to the Angling Category, would surely generate more dead bluefin discards,
marlin, and other species killed by pelagic longline gear.