Congresswoman Chellie Pingree today criticized the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for proposing to lower total catch limits for both western and eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks, and encouraged the administration to stand up for U.S. fishermen in its negotiations with the International Commission on Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).
"NOAA should be holding up our fishermen and their efforts as the model for the rest of the world, not making them pay for a problem other countries are making worse," said Pingree. "The conservation measures Maine fishermen have used and promoted in good faith are working. We should be focusing on getting other countries to hold up their end of the deal and be accountable to those same standards, rather than forcing our fishermen to make up the balance. It's unfair to penalize our fishermen for what's out of their control, especially when other countries have been taking advantage of their sacrifices."
While data has shown that eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks have been heavily overfished, recent reports show that the western stocks may be the healthiest they have been in years, in part due to strict conservation measures upheld by U.S. fishermen.
Highlighting these findings, Pingree and other members of New England's Congressional Delegation sent a letter to NOAA last week asking the agency to consider a modest raise in catch limits for U.S. fishermen while calling for strong action to ensure all nations' compliance with ICCAT policies.