Fishermen “Listening” Meetings
NOAA determined in September that listing bluefin tuna under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) might be warranted. As a result, Atlantic bluefin tuna are now considered a candidate species and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) must make a final determination by May 2011 as to whether a listing is warranted. If bluefin tuna is to be listed as “endangered” or ”threatened”, all commercial and recreational fishing for bluefin would be prohibited. This prohibition would only affect US fishermen.
The Petition to list Atlantic bluefin tuna as “endangered or threatened” under ESA law was originally submitted by the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, a group known for using ESA to achieve their goals.
The formal review process is now underway. The Status Review Team (SRT), comprised solely of NOAA and NMFS employees, is tasked with compiling all available information on bluefin and conducting a threats assessment/extinction risk analysis. Their report will be handed over to NMFS for the final determination. Despite the overwhelming data to the contrary, there is great concern that Dr. Lubchenco will once again try to forward her ”preservation” agenda to destroy this fishery.
Fishermen have one last opportunity to have input in this process before the SRT makes it’s report to NMFS. The American Bluefin Tuna Association (ABTA) insisted that fishermen be allowed the opportunity to be heard and NMFS agreed. There are 5 “Listening Sessions” scheduled in January 2011 that will allow fishermen to educate the SRT as to their observations of the fish and their habits, as well as give their opinions of why the current available science may be flawed and insufficient.
It is extremely important that fishermen attend at least one of the 5 listening sessions. It is critical that NMFS hears your comments and insights. ESA is the knock-out punch for the US bluefin fishery. Take it seriously and come and speak your mind. Let Dr. Lubchenco know your feelings about the health of your fishery. The schedule of meetings:
Jan 5 – NMFS Lab in Sandy Hook NJ
Jan 6 – Mariner’s House in Boston MA
Jan 7 – Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Portland ME
Jan 10 – NMFS Lab, Pascagoula MS
Jan 11 – NMFS Lab, Beaufort NC
Fishermen planning on attending should RSVP to Kimberly Damon-Randall by emailing her at:
ABTA has produced some “talking points” and guidelines for fishermen to use for the forthcoming meetings. Attached is a .pdf file of ABTA’s talking points paper.