Yellowfin Tuna

    Harvesting Yellowfin Tuna
    U.S. commercial fishermen primarily
    use longline, rod and reel, and
    handline gear to harvest Atlantic
    yellowfin. Pelagic longline gear and
    handgear (handline and rod and
    reel) used to catch yellowfin tuna
    have no impact on habitat because they’re used in the water column and don’t come into contact
    with the ocean floor. Handgear is very selective so bycatch is minimal, but pelagic longlines can
    incidentally catch other fish and protected species such as marine mammals and sea turtles. U.S.
    fishermen fishing with pelagic longline gear follow a number of strict regulations to prevent bycatch:

  • They must use large circle hooks and certain types of bait that limit gear interactions with sea
    turtles. Circle hooks are specifically designed to minimize the damage caused by hooking, giving
    animals a better chance at survival when captured and released. Fishermen are trained to use
    special techniques to safely dehook and disentangle turtles if they are accidentally caught.
  • They must stop fishing and move 1 nautical mile if they encounter a protected species.
  • To protect pilot whales and Risso’s dolphins, pelagic longline vessels fishing in the Mid-Atlantic
    Bight must limit the length of their lines to 20 nautical miles and post marine mammal
    handling/release guidelines on their vessels. In the Cape Hatteras Special Research Area, pelagic
    longliners must contact NOAA Fisheries at least 48 hours prior to a trip and carry observers if
  • To reduce bycatch of billfish in the Gulf of Mexico, longline fishermen must use weak hooks to
    reduce accidental catch of bluefin tuna and may not use live bait.
  • Large areas of the Gulf of Mexico are also closed to longline fishing to reduce bycatch, primarily
  • Longline fishermen must carry vessel monitoring systems (satellite technology) onboard their
    boats so they’re aware of area closures.
  • NOAA Fisheries monitors the pelagic longline fishery for interactions with protected species
    through at-sea fisheries observers on a quarterly basis and reviews data for appropriate action, as

    Several other nations also harvest yellowfin tuna in the Atlantic, primarily using purse seine and bait
    boat gear in waters off West Africa. Juvenile yellowfin tuna school with skipjack and juvenile bigeye
    tuna, mainly in surface waters. These schools are strongly attracted to floating objects or Fish
    Aggregating Devices (FADs), increasing their vulnerability to surface fishing gears. Unlike yellowfin
    tuna in the eastern Pacific, schools of Atlantic yellowfin tuna are not typically found in association
    with marine mammals.

    Recreational fishermen enjoy catching yellowfin tuna because they’re large (up to 400 pounds),
    they fight hard, and they are delicious. Recreational fishermen must have a permit to catch yellowfin
    tuna. They may only catch and keep yellowfin tuna larger than 27 inches and may only keep three
    yellowfin per person per day.

    More about the Yellowfin Tuna Species
    Yellowfin Tuna - The Fishery
    Yellowfin Tuna - Seafood

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