Bluefin tuna limits set for failing fishery
Sport fishing limits on bluefin tuna will drop from 10 fish per day to two, under new rules that federal fisheries regulators approved this week.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council on Monday finalized its decision to reduce the bag limit on the tuna for the years 2015 and 2016, following reports that bluefin throughout the Pacific have dropped to 4 percent of historical numbers.
“So it’s a pretty severe state of affairs,” said Marci Yaremko, state federal fisheries program manager for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The reduced bag limit should decrease recreational bluefin catch by 30 percent, said Jamie Gibbon, a senior associate for global tuna conservation at The Pew Charitable Trusts. It’s a higher bag limit than the one fish per day maximum that Pew had called for, or the moratorium that some conservation groups wanted.
Catherine Kilduff, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, which had called for a halt to bluefin fishing, expressed disappointment at the compromise measure, saying that two fish per day wouldn’t sufficiently protect bluefin populations. Gibbon however, said it’s a start.
“While this isn’t as large of a cut as we’d like to see, it is, it’s a good first step,” Gibbon said. The bag limit is more restrictive than the three to five fish per day allowance that sport fishermen and charter captains were hoping for, but some acknowledged that catch limits were needed to ensure recovery of the fishery.
“There’s no question that going from the current limit of 10 fish down to two fish has an economic impact on this industry,” Yaremko said. “There is an economic price tag on this. It’s not for free. We also need to balance those economic impacts with the conservation benefits.”