Pew: Traditional bluefin fishermen need our support

Comment today!

A proposed government rule would unfairly reduce the catch of traditional and recreational bluefin tuna fishermen while rewarding the wasteful practices of others. Don't let this happen.

I love to fish. There is nothing more relaxing than being out on the water seeking the next big catch. I want to be able to fish with my daughter for years to come. But we've all heard that the ocean is in trouble, from climate change, overfishing, and destructive fishing methods, to name just a few issues that threaten ocean fish. What you may not know is that some commercial and recreational fishermen are being threatened by a recent government proposal.

Traditional fishermen have caught bluefin tuna off the coast of New England for hundreds of years. This is no industrial fishing method. Harpoon and rod-and-reel fishing combines athleticism with an innate knowledge of the sea and the mighty bluefin tuna. It is clean, with one fish being selectively targeted, and little to no waste. Now compare these methods with the indiscriminate catching of bluefin tuna on hundreds of baited hooks that stretch on a line for tens of miles. This is surface longlining, which targets yellowfin tuna and swordfish along the eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico. Every year, over 1,500 bluefin tuna are incidentally caught on surface longlines and are usually tossed overboard, dead and wasted.

On March 14, the government proposed a rule that would reduce the quota for commercial harpoon and rod-and-reel fishermen, as well as recreational fishermen, to account for the wasted catch of bluefin tuna from the surface longline fleet. This not only unfairly penalizes fishermen who use sustainable methods; it institutionalizes the wasteful practices of less selective fishing methods. Instead, the government should protect areas which have high concentrations of bluefin tuna from longlining, such as the Gulf of Mexico. By doing so, bluefin tuna and traditional commercial and recreational fishermen can be protected. The government needs to hear from you if this proposal is to be amended. By submitting your letter below, you are helping to protect a traditional way of life, and helping to ensure that selective fishing methods are preferred.

Harpoon It's what will keep fish in the water and fishermen on the water for years to come.

Lee Crockett
Avid fisherman and Director, Federal Fisheries Policy, Pew Environment Group