Science-Based Management of Bluefin Tuna

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Dec. 24 news story "Advocates Hope Science Can Save a Big Tuna" illustrated how quality science should translate into sound fisheries management of the Atlantic bluefin tuna.

For years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service has followed recommendations from top international scientists for managing the bluefin tuna that roam both sides of the Atlantic. The U.S. bluefin rebuilding plan has been based on these recommendations.

We cut the U.S. catch of western Atlantic bluefin in 2006 when the scientists recommended we do so. Unfortunately, nations that fish in the eastern Atlantic off Europe and in the Mediterranean continue to set quotas that are almost double what scientists recommend. This disregard for science-based management recommendations is the main reason bluefin are on the decline.

It is already illegal for fishermen to seek bluefin in the Gulf of Mexico. The few bluefin caught incidentally by fishermen seeking other species are factored into our management measures and quotas.


Silver Spring

The writer is the director of the NOAA Fisheries Service.

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