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Pilot Program Prevents By-Catch Of Bluefin Tuna Gulf of Mexico, January 10, 13

A pilot program that aims to eliminate the by-catch of bluefin tuna, by using “greensticking” and swordfish buoy gear, has had successful results since April, according to David Kerstetter, the project’s lead research scientist.

A Stanford University marine research scientist installings a satellite radio tag on a 700-pound Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico

Kerstetter has been working with four tuna fishing boats that are operating in the Gulf of Mexico and since April, he says they have landed more than 19,000 pounds of yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna and swordfish, without catching a single bluefin. He notes the lines have caught other species, however.

The gears are designed to have minimal by-catch and the fish that are caught by accident are usually released alive because the gear is constantly monitored, he says.
The pilot program provided equipment and fuel subsidy to the participating vessels.
One commercial fisherman, who has been part of the initiative for about a month, says it is too early to provide an opinion, but reports that the greenstick requires the boat to constantly troll, wasting a considerable amount of fuel on his 80-foot vessel.
Kerstetter says it would be economical to use a smaller, lighter boat and hopes gear transition programs will eventually help them accomplish that.