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Kerry, Brown, Frank, Tierney, Delahunt: Designating Bluefin Tuna An "Endangered Species' Would Hurt Massachusetts Fishermen, Let European Union Plunder Stocks

Press Release

Location: Boston, MA

Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, together with Congressmen Barney Frank, John Tierney and William Delahunt today voiced concern over the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) decision to launch a full review to determine whether Atlantic bluefin tuna should be listed as an endangered species.

Earlier this year, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal scientific petition to protect the Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Endangered Species Act. In response to the petition, NOAA launched a 90 day review to determine whether there was enough information to warrant a full status review. NOAA determined earlier today that it had enough information to warrant a full review, which it estimates will take approximately nine months to complete, and which will ultimately lead to a determination on whether or not the agency needs to issue an official proposal listing the bluefin tuna under the Endangered Species Act.

"This decision comes at the worst possible time for Massachusetts fishermen. I'm especially troubled because if NOAA goes down this road and adds them to the Endangered Species List, it can't and won't address the issue. The problem is simple: for years, European Union countries have taken significantly more than their fair share, which puts an undue burden on New England's fishermen. A listing won't change that one bit, it'll just handcuff our fishermen. I've long supported a strong, international agreement to conserve Atlantic Bluefin populations, and this study by NOAA needs to focus on the struggles of our fishermen and the unsustainable actions of the European fleet," said Senator Kerry.

"We should be looking for ways to help our fishermen get back on their feet so they can continue creating jobs and contributing to the New England economy instead of burdening our already-struggling fishing industry with even more job-killing regulations," said Senator Scott Brown.

"This is yet another example of how NOAA's flawed fishery management unilaterally harms the American fishing industry and provides no conservation benefit," said Frank. "While an endangered species listing would be devastating to US bluefin fishermen, it would have no impact on limiting the catch of foreign based fishermen resulting in valuable jobs and revenue being sent overseas. I will work with my colleagues and weigh-in strongly against this potential listing."

"Should NOAA follow through with placing Atlantic bluefin tuna on the Endangered Species Act, I'd have serious concerns about the effect this would have on the sustainability and livelihood of our fishing communities in Massachusetts," said Congressman John F. Tierney (MA-06). "An international agreement on this issue appears to be warranted, and it is my hope that NOAA will proceed cautiously and carefully consider potential negative impacts on our fishing families."

"I completely sympathize with those who want to save the Atlantic Bluefin, but moving in this direction fails to address the real issue here." said Delahunt. "Instead, we are putting our own fishing industry at risk, jeopardizing our economy and thousands of jobs."

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