On the domestic front, NOAA has already taken numerous steps to ensure the fish is managed as responsibly as possible. Bluefin would all stay in our exclusive economic zone, within 200 miles of our shores, if they were clever enough to recognize international boundaries and remain where they’re treated best. The U.S. fishery has the strongest conservation requirements in the world, which prevented us from even harvesting our internationally negotiated quota for most of the last decade until we did meet our full allotment in 2009 and 2010.
U.S. fishermen’s inability to catch our quota had nothing to do with their skill or the fish’s scarcity and everything to do with NOAA’s conservation efforts. The agency banned fishermen using longlines—miles-long strings of fishing line set with hundreds of individual hooks—from targeting bluefin in its breeding grounds in the Gulf of Mexico. It also increased minimum size limits to prevent the catch of juvenile fish, reduced trip limits (the amount of legal-sized fish a boat can catch in a day), and most recently, required longliners targeting swordfish and other tunas in the Gulf to use so-called weak hooks designed to straighten and release a fish under the amount of tension a bluefin can create.