Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Gulf Oil Spill Threatens Bluefin Tuna 

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Every spring, the bluefin tuna uses the northern Gulf of Mexico as spawning grounds, at the exact time and place the BP spill happened a year ago. Before the spill, the sushi craze may have been the fish's biggest threat. But now, something called "long-line fishing" is putting the bluefin on the survival hook, according to Tom Wheatly, director of the Gulf Surface Longline Closure Campaign, Tampa.

"It's not very targeted. What that means is, they don't just catch yellowfin tuna and swordfish, they catch a lot of other species - including bluefin tuna during their spawn, which we think needs to stop, for sure."

Wheatly has described long-lines as a "curtain of death" that catches any living creature unfortunate enough to bite a baited hook.

Dave Bard with the Pew Charitable Trust says they are focusing on trying to change commercial long-line fishing habits.

"The threat that's been facing tuna for years now is these surface long-lines."

The spawning periods are critical because the bluefin population isn't exactly booming, Bard adds. The population has declined 80 percent in the past decade.

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