by John T. Koegler
Highly Migratory Species Report
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association January 2010
Tuna management is shifting into high gear. NMFS has produced their 2010 quota for bluefin tuna. The numbers and divisions are similar to 2009. I could not find NMFS estimate of anglers 2009 bluefin landings. Normally this is not an issue. In 2009 Northern New Jersey had their best large school and small medium fishery in decades. Given the small size of the angler quota for this size bluefin, this fishing went on for over two months. Anglers went over quota. How far is the question.
General category giant bluefin tuna fishing had their best year in the last five years. The fishery management changes in New England sharply reduced the excessive landings of herring. The availability of herring encouraged giants to come and stay for an extended period of time. The season started late and as a result they did not exceed quota.
The bluefin fishery around Morehead City is in full gear with boats landing one or two giants per day. If the current catch rate continues they will cove the fishery before the scheduled end of January scheduled time.
YFT fishing in the northeast was poor this year. There were lots of small just legal or sub-legal tuna around. The problem was to find one long enough that it was the legal length. I believe why so many small fish is simple. The long line commercial fleet was very conservative about when and how many days they fished. Given that swordfish have increased in both number and size, the long line fleet is using very large circle hooks. I believe their hooks of 14/0 and 16/0 are large enough that a small tuna rarely gets hooked. The bigger tuna are easily hooked. Result: there are more small tuna fish.
Those Canyon fishermen who enjoy White Marlin fishing had a great season.
The reports as usual are full of optimism for a huge reduction in the eastern Atlanticís excessive landing of bluefin tuna. Whether any European or African country pays any attention is another issue. After ignoring ICCATís regulations for the last 40 years, how likely is it they will pay any attention to the rules?
They did pass tighter rules and lower quotas for Swordfish. They propose to impose now controls on bigeye and longfin tunas. Whether any nation except the US follows the rules is the question. Given their 40 years of ignoring the rules, how likely is it any European or African country will observe the 2010 rules? But you can bet your last dollar the NMFS will lead all nations in imposing tough new rules on US fishermen.
Enjoy a great holiday season. Thanks for reading this column. Let us hope that fishery management of all species improves so they treat anglers fairly!!