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Tri-State Area Sport Fishermen Catch a Break on Bluefin Tuna

July 22, 2011

NEW YORK - Plenty of sport fishermen in the tri-state area will take a break from the hot weather by heading out to the water this weekend. They'll also be catching another sort of break – from recently enacted federal fishing quotas.

Lee Crockett, director of federal fisheries policy for Pew Environment Group, says recreational fishermen were expecting to see their bluefin catch quota drop by as much as ten percent, but the new quota released at the start of the month was not lower.

"It's good news for the recreational fisherman in New York and the mid-Atlantic states, because they are not going to have their quota reduced to pay for the wasteful practices of longline fishermen."

Crockett says fisheries managers had proposed reducing recreational fishermen's catch of bluefin to make up for all the bluefin caught incidentally by surface longline fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico. However, he says the BP oil spill reduced commercial fishing catches overall last year in the Gulf, and that's a big reason Atlantic Coast Fishermen are 'catching' a break this year.

In addition, he says the National Marine Fisheries Service is making progress because surface longliners are now being held accountable for the unintended bluefin tuna that ends up in their catch.

"It is now accounting for wasteful fishing of the longliners as far as bluefin goes. And the thing that needs to happen is to actually add some enforcement to this, so there's a consequence when the longliners reach their quota."

According to Crockett, the Atlantic bluefin population has dropped by 82 percent since 1970. Pew Environment Group is pressing the feds to prohibit surface longline fishing in the Gulf, which is the only known spawning ground in the western Atlantic for the severely depleted bluefin. Information about its effort is online at

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY