Agency Proposes Bluefin Tuna Catch Limits

     WASHINGTON (CN) - In an effort to curb overfishing of bluefin tuna, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed new regulations that would set limits for commercial retention of those fish in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
     The United States is a member of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, which requires limits on the number of tuna that can be retained by commercial fishing boats.
     For the first time, in June, the NMFS adopted a resolution to establish commercial catch limits for Pacific bluefin tuna.
     The NMFS noted that new rules are needed to reduce the mortality of juvenile Pacific bluefin tuna, and the resolution is an interim means to assure the species' viability.
     The NMFS proposed implementing the resolution for the United States.
     Among other things, the resolution recommends stopping the harvest of bluefin tuna for the rest of 2012 once 500 metric tons of the fish have been harvested and stopping in 2013 once 10,000 metric tons has been harvested.
     The prohibition for 2013 will not be effective until the United States has reached the 500 ton limit, the NMFS said.
     The NMFS will report the United States' tuna harvest to the Inter-America Tropical Tuna Commission every month. In the event the U.S. is nearing its limit, the NMFS will publish a notice announcing restrictions.
     The public is invited to submit written comments by Jan. 11 of this year.
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