On December 12, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined several regional and national recreational fishing organizations in opposing a petition currently under consideration by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries to list the Pacific bluefin tuna as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The petition, which was submitted to the Department of Commerce and NOAA earlier this year by several environmental organizations, seeks to ban recreational and commercial fishing for Pacific bluefin tuna in the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
In the letter, CSF, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), and the Coastside Fishing Club argue that an ESA listing would be ineffective from a species conservation perspective and would unfairly harm sportfishing and related industries on the West Coast, particularly in Southern California. Recreational anglers along the U.S. Pacific coast only take approximately 1.5 percent of the total annual harvest of Pacific bluefin tuna. Following actions taken by the U.S. government, NOAA, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), Pacific bluefin tuna stocks already have begun to stabilize and rebuild.
Bluefin tuna are an important species to offshore recreational fishing in California along with other types of tuna and open ocean migratory fish. The tuna sportfishing industry along the Southern California coast generates more than $100 million in annual spending. Through the American System of Conservation Funding, this spending funnels vital funds to state fish and wildlife management agencies all along the West Coast.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?