The Billfish Foundation (TBF) recently sent comments to NOAA Fisheries regarding the international management of Western & Central Northern Pacific striped marlin.
Western & Central Northern Pacific striped marlin, whose abundance, especially spawning-stock biomass, and size are greatly diminished and retain low priority within the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). This regional fisheries management organization (RFMO) is tasked with the management of this and other highly migratory species.
Unfortunately, its interim rebuilding plan for the species which includes goals to be achieved by 2034 has no chance of success. More aggressive conservation and management measures by WCPFC to reduce post-release mortality need to be considered, which can be done with little impact on longlines catching its targeted species.
TBF submitted more meaningful striped marlin conservation measures for the longline fisheries we think the US should lead with before WCFPFC and Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) include the following:
- Require use of large circle hook in longline fisheries to reduce bycatch of protected species, marlin, sharks, and sea birds while increasing post-release survival of marlin;
- Require release/non-retention of all live striped marlin;
- Establish a minimum size marlin limit below which hooked striped marlin must be released dead or alive, this will reduce the mortality of juveniles; and
- Implement time-area closures, perhaps year-round, for longline gear so marlin nursery grounds and juvenile striped marlin can be protected.