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Hawaiians Worried About Price Effect Of Reduction Bigeye Quota

Bigeye tuna lovers in Hawaii could face a price hike for fresh sashimi and poke in 2014 due to a proposal that would place a limit on the catch of the species for the Hawaiian longline fleet. Overfishing of bigeye tuna is an issue faced by the whole of the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. is hopeful that the present quota will remain.

The current quota measures at 3,763 tons and was set in 2008. One proposal has pushed for this to be reduced significantly by around 37 percent to 2,300 tons.

Michael Tosatto, regional administrator for the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, said: “What that would mean is potentially we’re closing our fishery in July and having no bigeye and that would be just hard to accept.”

The news of a possible reduction in the bigeye quota in the Pacific for the Hawaiian longline fleet is raising concerns. Sashimi and poke restaurants rely on the catch for trade and to supply for the consumer demand.

Nico Chaize, owner of Nico’s Pier 38 restaurant in Hawaii said: “Less fish means more expensive fish so the demand is going to go higher for less fish and the price is going to go up so everyone is going to be affected price-wise, and also no product in the market.”

“We’ve adhered to that quota consistently over the years. Unfortunately, that’s not true of all the various countries and different fisheries so what we would like to see is a level playing field,” said Sean Martin, president of the Hawaii Longline Association.

Local experts suggest that new restrictions should be set on the purse seine fishery in the region which uses big nets and buoys.

Tosatto added: “In the course of taking skipjack tuna, they take a growing amount of bigeye, and they’re taking juvenile bigeye and its having an impact on the stock.”

The future of the fishery is being discussed by the Scientific and Statistical Committee in Honolulu. Suggestions from the committee will be taken up by the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council from October 16 to 18. The council will provide the U.S. government with recommendations and a decision by the WCPFC on Hawaii’s quota is expected for December.

The Hawaii News Now video shows how the bigeye quota reduction would impact the local industry and community.