Center for Biological Diversity

Support Protections for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

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Right now the National Marine Fisheries Service is evaluating whether to list the Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Endangered Species Act. Atlantic bluefin tuna are amazing and magnificent fish, growing to almost ten feet and 900 pounds in 20 years and swimming at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. Warm-blooded and with the ability to cross oceans, these predators are a unique component of the marine ecosystem that we have yet to fully understand. The Fisheries Service must act now to save the species from being fished to extinction.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas has failed to prevent steep declines in the tuna population. Many years of unsustainable management measures and rampant illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing have pushed this species to the brink of extinction. Your comments to the Fisheries Service are important to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna from the threat of continued decline.

A recent report warned of the high risk of population collapse for the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks if overfishing continues. In 2007, fishermen reported catching 34,514 tons of eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna, exceeding the allowable catch by about 5,000 tons. Scientists estimated the actual catch was likely about double the reported amount. The same report observed that, halfway through a 20-year rebuilding plan begun in 1998, the population of the western Atlantic bluefin tuna was still below what it was at the beginning of the rebuilding period.

The Endangered Species Act would safeguard Atlantic bluefin tuna and habitat critical to the species’ survival, specifically the Gulf of Mexico breeding grounds during spawning season. Protection under the Act would require federal agencies such as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement to avoid jeopardizing the bluefin tuna in permitting offshore drilling. Additionally, listing Atlantic bluefin tuna would ban the importation of bluefin, which would reduce incentives to overfish the species in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Please act now to voice your support for these protections. 

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Please submit comments by November 22, 2010.

Bluefin tuna photo courtesy NOAA.

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