Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management (DEM) reports that Environmental Police Officers from its Division of Law Enforcement commandeered a giant bluefin tuna caught and killed by a Massachusetts charter boat. The officers seized the tuna the week from the charter boat in Rhode Island waters east of Point Judith.
DEM officers determined the captain had paying clients aboard his boat but didn’t have a required state commercial fishing license nor a Rhode Island Charter/Party fishing permit to fish in Rhode Island state waters.
The boat was escorted to port by the DEM, where the fish was confiscated and sold to a licensed seafood dealer. The captain was issued a criminal summons for the violations. Money from the sold fish is held in escrow by the state.
The tuna could have been worth as much as $10,000, as this is prime time for bluefin tuna, which is a highly valued food held in high esteem for sushi, particularly in Japan. The 113-inch seized tuna could have weighed well over 800 pounds, with an estimated age of 15 years, according to some statistical charts of bluefins.
DEM stated that giant bluefins on the coast are an indicator of a healthy ecosystem and offer great opportunities for properly licensed commercial fishermen. Rhode Island Environmental Police Officers are committed to protecting this vital resource for the benefit of properly licensed fishermen who pursue the fish, said DEM.
In recent weeks giant bluefin tuna have been in good supply not far off the Rhode Island and Massachusetts coasts. Baitfish that big tuna relish have been abundant, and where goes the food goes the gamefish. Tuna target mackerel, herring, menhaden, squid, bluefish, butterfish, false albacore and others.
One report stated that about 30 giant bluefins were caught on Sept. 11 off Scarborough Beach, Narragansett, Rhode Island. A 600-pound, 100-inch bluefin was caught less than five miles off the Sakonnet River, and others just a few miles off Newport.
Reportedly the near-shore fishing was so good and anglers were so successful, that the commercial and recreational allocation limits for giant bluefins were all filled for September, less than half-way through the month.