Thanks to pressure from the Center for Biological Diversity we now have the chance to reform Atlantic bluefin tuna management. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is accepting comments on proposed changes, but many of them aren't improvements -- some could even undercut protection.
Bluefin tuna are consistently overfished and have not recovered from steep declines in the 1970s. Population levels remain lower than they were in 1999 when the recovery program began.
Take action and demand the agency take a hard line against overfishing, longline fishing, counterproductive quotas and other failed policies that will not save this great fish from extinction.
These tuna survived decades of overfishing, an oil spill in their spawning grounds and $15,000 bounties for large fish. Despite being considered endangered by Canada, the U.S. continues to appease industry and downplay their plight as, simply, a "species of concern."
Let's use this chance to win them serious protections.
For decades surface longline fishing for yellowfin tuna and swordfish has unintentionally caught and killed severely depleted marine life like spawning bluefin tuna, blue marlin and sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. The gulf is the only known spawning habitat for western Atlantic bluefin tuna, and it needs effective protection. Please prohibit surface longlining year-round in the Gulf of Mexico.
Furthermore, scientists agree that carrying forward the uncaught quota from one year to the next undermines effective management, especially for overfished species. If bluefin tuna are too scarce to meet U.S. quotas, those quotas should be relinquished, not added to the next year's allowable catch. The agency should end this counterproductive system.
Finally, please end overfishing of western Atlantic bluefin tuna, which have not recovered from being decimated by U.S. purse seines -- large nets that swept up entire schools of tuna -- in the 1960s and 1970s. Western Atlantic bluefin tuna that spawn in the Gulf of Mexico need an opportunity to recover to healthy levels. Threats to their habitat are only increasing, and they can't survive these challenges if they are at a fraction of their healthy abundance. Please establish sustainable fishing thresholds and end overfishing by U.S. fishermen now.
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