TRENTON, N.J. (CN) – Commercial fishermen say the federal government used a faulty database to record their catch of tilefish, and revoked their permits without due process. Tilefish, also known as blanquillo, are an important food fish, and some species are popular for aquariums.
The fishermen and -women say the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries Service knew its database was faulty, but used it anyway.
Scallop fishers have filed at least two class actions with similar complaints about the catch database.
Represented by Patrick Flanigan of Swarthmore, Pa., the tilefish fishers seek accurate landing history and compensation for lost income.
Tilefish reproduce slowly and some tilefish fisheries have declined as a result of large-scale harvest. The fish seek protection in self-made burrows and eat small crustaceans. Although most varieties have low-key colors, bright purple and red types make popular aquarium fish.