The Pew Environment Group now joined conservation organizations and 14 fishing

Published: 08th May 2020
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About 55,000 citizens filed comments urging NMFS to shield western Atlantic bluefin tuna by implementing an area close on long line gear in the Gulf of Mexico, the only known spawning area for the species. Scientists estimate that the number of mature western Atlantic bluefin tuna has dropped more than 80% since 1970, and fewer than 20,000 adults may remain. "We now possess the opportunity to restore this fish to healthful amounts. The question is whether the National Marine Fisheries Service will eventually take the necessary and bold things to do to shield bluefin in U.S. waters."Directed commercial fishing for bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico has been prohibited since 1982, but long line fishermen targeting swordfish and yellowfin tuna are permitted to keep up to three incidentally-captured bluefin tuna per trip. Despite the current prohibition and critically low population levels, NMFS has proposed letting commercial long-line fishermen sell and to capture more fish than now permitted by law. Bluefin tuna control a big cost in the marketplace - up to tens of thousands of dollars per fish. Allowing fishermen simply two more of those fish per trip creates a strong economic incentive to set long-line equipment in the only known spawning areas. Given the small population size of mature fish, any increase in mortality decreases the potential for rebuilding the stock."Anything we can do to protect these fragile species in their own spawning divisions in the Gulf of Mexico would help all user groups," said Ray Rosher, celebrated Miami-based charter captain. "Along with the conservation of the species is critical to all user groups."In addition to shielding bluefin tuna, the prohibition would help preserve populations of white and blue marlin - both are categorized as subject to overfishing and so are badly depleted. Endangered leatherback and threatened loggerhead sea turtles, which are captured and killed unintentionally by long-lines, would also reap the benefits of the close. The Pew Environment Group is working to secure a closure of sea surface long line fishing for yellowfin tuna and swordfish in the Gulf of Mexico to protect other ocean wildlife and bluefin tuna. The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-governmental organization headquartered in the United States that employs a rigorous, analytic method of advising the public improving public policy and exciting civic life

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