Pacific Fishery Management Council to consider allowing longline fishing by special "Exempted Fishing Permit."
In its coming March meeting the Pacific Fisheries Management Council will consider public input on a request for an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) to allow for a single vessel to fish longline gear in the Pacific EEZ. The target species would be swordfish, bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore tuna. The rationale for the permit is to evaluate the potential for a longline fishery that may serve in the future as an alternative for as many as 131 currently permitted drift gillnet vessels. As in the past, TBF is opposing the issuance of this permit. Yellowfin, bigeye and albacore tuna are currently either overfished or subject to fishing mortality rates that will continue to drive them to an overfished condition. Expanding the directed fishery on these species will only serve to make a bad situation worse and increase billfish and other bycatch mortality associated with the use of indiscriminate longline gear. Click here to view the full text of our letter to the PFMC.
If you share our concerns we urge you to contact the Pacific Fishery Management Council via email, fax or mail. We have provided a short statement that can be used, or feel free to put these concerns into your own words:
To: Council Members, Pacific Fisheries Management Council
Subject: Longline Exempted Fishing Permit Request
I am a concerned conservationist and angler and would like to take this opportunity to, again, voice my opposition to any attempts to develop a longline fishery off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. You have in the past acted prudently to keep this destructive gear out of our Pacific EEZ. Current attempts to open the door to as many as 131 new longline vessels in these waters would be disastrous for HMS stocks, both targeted and taken as bycatch. I support The Billfish Foundation in their opposition to this new source of fishing mortality. Given the current excess of fishing effort and fishing mortality applied to Pacific bigeye, yellowfin and albacore stocks there is no rational reason to even consider expanding existing fisheries. Do not recommend issuance of the proposed EFP for longline gear.
Final action on this permit request will be taken in Seattle on March 9!