Options to maximize Bluefin Tuna in the Atlantic Ocean

Amendment 13 – Atlantic Bluefin Tuna – HMS Fishery Management Plan

Amendment 13 to the Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan proposes many options striving to maximize utilization of the U.S. bluefin quota.  Half of the options propose changes to the pelagic longline fishery’s Individual Bluefin Quota (IBQ) current management strategy and the other half proposes options that include all managed fishing Categories, including the Angling Category. 

Three Key Amendment Options: 

            1. Abolish Purse Seine Category  – because no bluefin tuna have been landed since 2015, the unused tonnage should be redistributed to other fishing Categories, except for the pelagic longline vessels in the Gulf of Mexico. 

            2. Redistribute the unused allocation based on vessel fishing activity – with Amendment 13’s purpose being achieving Full Utilization, which requires catching the fish, basing additional allocation on vessels’ successful landings should be key. The Angling Category, in all regions, could land more fish and should be allocated an increase.  

            3. Authorize Atlantic Ocean permitted pelagic longline vessels to fish in the Gulf of Mexico between July and December – No additional commercial fishing pressure should be directed on targeted species for bycatch species, including billfish, will be killed. Especially with the uncertainty and still heavily debated issue of post-BP harm to species in the Gulf and the continuing oil leakage from the site and the ongoing leakage from the Taylor Energy Platform.

The Billfish Foundation will be submitting our comments by the end of the month and will share them with you so you may submit something similar to NOAA. Stay up to date with this and other issues affecting the sportfishing community by subscribing to our newsletter.