Target: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association
Goal: Eliminate discrepancies in proposed protections and expand the measure’s jurisdiction
When using long lines, commercial fisherman mean to catch swordfish and yellowfin tuna, but they often net depleted blue fin tuna instead. Armed with over 750 baited hooks, long lines can stretch for 40 miles and are left unattended for up 18 hours. Largely due to this “indiscriminate gear,” the Atlantic bluefin population is down 64 percent from its 1970s numbers, a National Geographic article reports. Long lines also pose a severe threat in the Gulf of Mexico, the only spawning grounds for western Atlantic bluefin.
The largest tuna, with lifespans up to 40 years, bluefin tuna are a “highly sought after delicacy” in sushi and sashimi, according to the World Wildlife Fund. They do provide food and support people’s livelihood. However, as a top ocean predator, their depletion can seriously disrupt marine ecosystems.
New proposals by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) offer promising protections to bluefin tuna. Certain fishing areas would be accessible only to fishermen using “highly targeted” alternative methods or to long line vessel operators able to demonstrate they could fish with minimal bluefin catch. In addition to setting an annual cap on bluefin tuna caught in long lines, the proposal includes an allocation system, meaning that upon exhausting their quota, fishermen would have to stop fishing unless they could purchase quota from another vessel operator.
However, the measures must be strengthened in order to make serious progress. As is, the current proposal seeks to restrict long line fishing only in the northwestern part of the Gulf of Mexico. The proposal also includes a somewhat contrary, disincentive for the use of alternative fishing technologies. In what would be a reversal of the proposed allocation system, one provision stipulates that part of the bluefin quota caught with targeted methods (without the use of long lines) would actually be given to the surface long line fleet.
By signing the petition below, you can urge the NOAA to expand protections to include all vital fishing grounds in the Gulf of Mexico. In encouraging their removal of the contradictory reallocation system, you can the stress the ultimate goal of promoting more sustainable fishing practices and ending the waste of depleted bluefin tuna.
Dear National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association,
I urge you to revise your proposed protections for depleted bluefin tuna. Due to commercial fishermen’s use of wasteful long lines, bluefin tuna are often netted instead of the desired swordfish and yellowtail tuna. As a result, the Atlantic bluefin population is down 64 percent from its 1970s numbers, National Geographic reports. Long lines pose a severe threat in the Gulf of Mexico, the only spawning grounds for western Atlantic blue fin.
While your proposal marks key progress in the protection of blue fin tuna, revisions must be made in order to clarify certain discrepancies and strike a better balance between commercial fishing interests and sustainability of blue fin populations. I urge you to expand protections to include all vital fishing grounds in the Gulf of Mexico, rather than just in the northwestern area. Additionally, I encourage you to remove the proposed reallocation system, which, as it stands, contradicts the proposed allocation system that sets a cap on bluefin caught in long lines and a method for quota exchange. If uncorrected, this discrepancy would also provide a disincentive for alternative fishing methods.
Our ultimate goal is to promote more sustainable fishing practices and end the waste of depleted bluefin tuna. In order to fulfill both these aims, I ask you to consider these revisions and enact them as soon as possible.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: World Wildlife Fund via worldwildlife.org