May 21, 2012 - NOAA's preliminary focus in attempting to control and eliminate discarded bluefin tuna is on the U.S. pelagic longline fishing fleet, which targets healthy stocks of sword and other tunas but also discards an average of more than 100 metric tons of bluefin a year, according to industry figures.
The prized fighter and food fish is managed via a quota system that divides the allocated catch between fishing categories both commercial and recreational, and also gives 8.1 percent of the total to the longliners who are not allowed to target bluefin, but may keep a proportion of its bycatch while discarding the rest. Bycatch is the term given to fish that is unintentionally hauled up by fishing boats that are targeting other species.
The American Bluefin Tuna Association, which represents commercial fishermen, reports dead discards by longline fishermen ranged from a low of 90 metric tons to a high of 160 metric tons between 2005 and 2010.
But the association faults the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, not the longliners, who are represented by the Blue Water Fishermen's Association.