Washington, DC, United States (4E Sports) – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries division is considering a ban on recreational or commercial fishing of a species of tuna that is extremely popular among sashimi enthusiasts.
The division said it is opening a formal rulemaking process to determine whether it should add Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) to its list of fish species that must be released immediately if caught.
The fish is sold in sushi joints as “maguro.”
Pacific bluefin catches have dropped dramatically in recent years due to commercial fishing as scientists say the species now stands at less than five percent of its historic numbers.
The NOAA’s move was in response to an April petition by the Center for Biological Diversity asking NOAA Fisheries to amend its Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species.
CBD has asked NOAA Fisheries to rewrite the plan to include a ban of catch of Pacific bluefin, or at least to implement annual catch limits and minimum sizes for the bluefin.
“This initiation of this important process provides a glimmer of hope in a sea of bleak news for Pacific bluefin tuna,” said CBD’s Catherine Kilduff. “Saving Pacific bluefin tuna from the world’s insatiable appetite for sushi requires action at all levels, starting with protection in U.S. waters.”
About 90 percent of the Pacific bluefin catch is consumed in Japan, where one 489-pound bluefin caught in 2012 brought about $3,500 per pound at a fish market in Tokyo.