Enviros Seek End to Bluefin Overfishing

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Center for Biological Diversity has requested the United States stop fishing for Pacific bluefin tuna and recommend an international moratorium, according to a government announcement.
     The Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service which received the CBD’s petition, seeks public comments and information on the requests.
     The petition asserts that Pacific bluefin tuna are not adequately protected under the existing Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species, and requests that NMFS amend the plan and its implementing regulations, to stop irreversible and irreparable harm from ongoing overfishing.
     The petition specifically requests that NMFS promptly initiate rulemaking to prohibit fishing for Pacific bluefin tuna, or establish annual catch limits for bluefin tuna and a permanent minimum size requirement to protect younger fish; and identify specific values for reference points used to determine if overfishing is occurring or if the stock is overfished, such as maximum fishing mortality threshold and the minimum stock size threshold.
     While the U.S. catch is only a small part of Pacific bluefin catch, with most of the catch since 1952 going to Japan, Mexico, Chinese-Taipei, and Korea, NMFS still has a duty to take the steps it can to slow or reduce overfishing, the petition states.
     The petition also lists three specific international actions and requests that NMFS make recommendations regarding them to the U.S Secretary of State and Congress.
     To end overfishing in the fishery and rebuild Pacific bluefin tuna populations, the petition requests recommendations for a high seas moratorium on all fishing; a Pacific-wide minimum size for bluefin tuna catch; and a steep reduction in Pacific bluefin tuna quota for all countries to meet rebuilding targets based on established reference points.
     The NMFS has specifically requested that the public provide comments on the social, economic, and biological impacts of the specific domestic and international actions the CBD requests, to aid NMFS in determining what action, if any, is appropriate.
     Comments are due by Sept. 22, 2014.

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