On Thursday, March 9, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) voted to begin the process of developing an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) for a single vessel to use longline gear to fish for Highly Migratory Species (HMS) off the West Coast of the U.S. The request for this experimental fishery was based on a call for information regarding the relative bycatch of finfish, sea turtles and marine mammals taken by longline gear in comparison to the bycatch taken by drift gill nets. The Billfish Foundation (TBF) continues to oppose issuing this permit because we believe that there is no need to develop a new fishery that targets bluefin tuna, bigeye tunua, yellowfin tuna and albacore given that overfishing is occurring or being approached for all of these species.
TBF will continue to work with the PFMC's HMS Management Team and Advisory Sub Panel to produce information that we think is relevant to providing answers to the question and to convince the council that such action is inappropriate. Final consideration of this EFP request is scheduled for September of this year.
It is now imperative that West Coast sportfishing conservationists rise to the occasion to assist TBF in keeping this situation under control!! More information on the council's reaction Specific details for this campaign will be posted on TBF's website.