The Pew Environment Group today joined 14 fishing and conservation organizations

Published: 08th May 2020
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The Pew Environment Group now joined 14 fishing and conservation organizations and more than 55,000 members of the general public in urging the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to reject its present proposal to permit commercial long line fishermen to catch and sell more Atlantic bluefin tuna, an iconic species nearing collapse. Scientists estimate that the amount of mature western Atlantic bluefin tuna has fell more than 80% since 1970, and fewer than 20,000 adults may remain. "We now get the chance to restore this fish to healthful levels. The question is if the National Marine Fisheries Service will finally take the necessary and bold things to do to protect 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-caught bluefin tuna per trip. Despite the existing ban as well as critically low population levels, NMFS has proposed allowing commercial longline fishermen to get and sell more fish than presently permitted by law. Bluefin tuna control a sizable price in the market - up to tens of thousands of dollars per fish. Allowing fishermen simply two more of the fish per trip creates a powerful economic incentive to establish long-line gear in the only known spawning areas. Given the small population size of mature fish, any increase in mortality reduces the possibility of rebuilding the stock."Anything we may do to protect these delicate species in their spawning areas in the Gulf of Mexico would benefit all user groups," said Ray Rosher, distinguished Miami-based charter captain. "Along with the conservation of the species is essential to any or all user groups."In addition to protecting bluefin tuna, the ban would help conserve populations of white and blue marlin - both are categorized as subject to overfishing and so are seriously depleted. Endangered leatherback and threatened loggerhead sea turtles, which are caught and killed unintentionally by long-lines, would also reap the benefits of the close. The Pew Environment Group is working to secure a close of sea surface longline fishing for yellowfin tuna and swordfish in the Gulf of Mexico to shield bluefin tuna along with other ocean wildlife. The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-governmental organization headquartered in the USA that employs a rigorous, analytic method of informing the people, improving public policy and stimulating civic life

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