Center for Biological Diversity

Protect Bluefin Tuna Spawning Grounds in the Gulf of Mexico

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With the start of bluefin tuna spawning season only a month away, the National Marine Fisheries Service is proposing to require longline fishermen to use "weak hooks,” designed to straighten to release bluefin. Almost all bluefin tuna caught in this fishery die due to the stress of capture, but limited data suggests the weak hooks release large bluefin tuna. Unfortunately, weak-hook research shows no decrease in the catch of other imperiled species including sea turtles, sharks and billfish, and the practice will not completely halt the killing of bluefin.

Protection of bluefin breeding grounds must be a top priority in order to recover populations. Scientists estimate that last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico killed more than 20 percent of juvenile Atlantic bluefin tuna, further reducing an already-imperiled species.

Right now the National Marine Fisheries Service is evaluating whether to list the Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Endangered Species Act in response to a Center for Biological Diversity petition. Even with the use of weak hooks, longline fisheries will continue to hook bluefin tuna and other marine wildlife.
Please write now to the Fisheries Service to tell them that any incidental catch of bluefin tuna in the Gulf breeding grounds is unacceptable.

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Please submit comments by February 12, 2011.

Photo of bluefin tuna spawning courtesy NOAA.

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