The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce has set final quota specifications for Atlantic bluefin tuna for the rest of the year. The rules take effect on Saturday, Aug 2, 2014. NMFS announced the final rule in the Federal Register of Monday, July 7, 2014. It is setting the quotas to comply with both the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation & Management Act.
The final rule differs from the proposed one in several ways. NMFS updated numbers based on the 2013 landing and dead discard information that was not available when it proposed the rules, for instance. NMFS is deducting half of both the 2013 pelagic longline and Purse Seine observed dead discard estimate. It is not changing the handgear or trap (in which bluefin may be inadvertently caught) categories, however. NMFS is still working on Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan, which eventually will reallocate catch among the subquotas.
This year, the totals (all figures in metric tons) come to 948.1 for the bluefin quota. The amount includes 94.9 carried over from the 2013 underharvest, minus 70.5 in dead discards. The subquotas include 182 for angling, 435.1 general, 36 harpoon, 171.8 Purse Seine, 74.8 longline, .9 trap, and 23.1 reserve. The figures include a bunch of subcategories by region and time of year.
NMFS had already adjusted baseline quotas for bluefin three times this year. It estimated a 384 metric ton underharvest for last year but is only allowed to carry over part of it to the next year. International rules limit the carryover to 10 percent. NMFS estimates the total harvest for last year amounted to 518.6 metric tons.
If you have any questions, call Sarah McLaughlin or Brad McHale at (978) 281-9260.