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Old 08-31-2009, 05:29 PM   #1
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Default Help Save the Our Gulf of Mexico

<TABLE id=content_LETTER.BLOCK12 hideFocus style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 10px" tabIndex=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width="100%" border=0 aria-posinset="0" aria-setsize="0" aria-level="0"><TBODY><TR><TD style="FONT-SIZE: 14pt; COLOR: #6699cc; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana,Geneva,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #d4dde6" align=left><DIV align=center>A MESSAGE FROM TBF PRESIDENT,</DIV><DIV align=center>ELLEN PEEL:</DIV></TD></TR><TR><TD style="FONT-SIZE: 8pt; COLOR: #285685; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana,Geneva,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif" align=left><DIV align=center><DIV align=left>I hate to bother you if you have already responded to this urgent request, but for anyone who has not, please cut and paste the TBF letter, or your modified version, into an email and send TODAY to the email addresses included. This is not the usual request for help; <U>we must generate thousands of email letters to get this possible longline closure on the amendment options coming out this Fall</U>. Thank you, we'll keep you posted on the government's next step. </DIV>Good fishing,</DIV>Ellen Peel</DIV>President</DIV>The Billfish Foundation

</DIV>
</DIV><DIV align=left>Note: We try not to overload your inboxes with excessive E'Blasts; however, when an important issue such as this arises, we want to make sure that everyone remains informed and reminded of deadlines for comments. If you find you receive a lot of emails one week, please stick with us and don't remove yourself from the mailing list... we're sending them because we want you to be involved in our cause and up to date on the issues.We valueyour commitment to conservation, the fish and healthy oceans &amp; economies... thanks for being a part of TBF's Team!</DIV></DIV></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><A name=LETTER.BLOCK2><TABLE id=content_LETTER.BLOCK2 hideFocus style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 10px" tabIndex=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width="100%" border=0 aria-posinset="0" aria-setsize="0" aria-level="0"><TBODY><TR><TD style="FONT-SIZE: 14pt; COLOR: #6699cc; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana,Geneva,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #d4dde6" align=left><DIV align=center>TBF CALL TO ACTION-</DIV><DIV align=center>COMMENTS DUE BY THE END OF MONDAY, AUGUST 31st:</DIV><DIV align=center>Gulf of Mexico Billfishing Community Comments Essential NOW!</DIV><DIV align=center>Marlin &amp; Bluefin Tuna Need Help</DIV></TD></TR><TR><TD style="FONT-SIZE: 8pt; COLOR: #285685; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana,Geneva,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif" align=left><DIV align=center></DIV><DIV align=left></DIV>The highest level of marlin bycatch in the U.S. is taken by U.S. pelagic longline vessels in the Gulf of Mexico targeting yellowfin tuna. Bluefin tuna, sea turtles, sea birds and other species are also killed as bycatch in this fishery.</DIV>The bycatch of billfish documented discards in the Gulf in 2007 and 2008 (1031 billfish caught with 400 dead discards, 589 live releases, 36 lost, 7 unknown condition) on only the observed pelagic longline trips greatly exceeds the total of 250 marlin authorized for the entire U.S. recreational fishery in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent waters. All billfish must be released, dead or alive, by U.S. commercial vessels; even so, the mortality from that gear contributes to driving down Atlantic marlin stocks and the success rates anglers experience when fishing for marlin in the Gulf.

The only offshore Atlantic species in worse shape than marlin is the North Atlantic bluefin tuna. In 1982, the International Commission on the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) passed a measure through member consensus that prohibited longlining of bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico, the only documented spawning ground for the western stock of this species. Based on this ICCAT measure adopted by the U.S., it is theoretically illegal to longline bluefin in the Gulf, but the National Marine Fisheries Service continues to allow the retention of bluefin tuna as "incidental catch" in the yellowfin tuna longline fishery.

The U.S. recreational billfish and tuna fishery is a significant industry in the Gulf, comprised of vessel and tackle manufacturers and dealers, marinas, tournaments, fuel sales, resorts and hotels. Thousands of jobs are directly linked to this recreational fishing and boating industry, a fishery that is compatible with conservation and strong economic stimulus throughout the region.Current management measures are allowing this hugely important fishery and the species upon which it depends to be treated as "incidental catches" in the commercial longline fishery. Billfish should no longer be given only "incidental thought" in fishery management process.

Now simultaneously the NMFS seeks to approve additional ways to kill more western Atlantic bluefin tuna to try to meet the U.S. share of the international quota as it has joined with the Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service to consider support for listing of the same North Atlantic bluefin under the Convention for the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as a species that is threatened by the international trade of bluefin.

TBF maintains that the NMFS needs to seek support for the CITES listing and close the Gulf during the period of bluefin spawning and high marlin bycatch in the Gulf. A March through September closure to longlining would protect bluefin tuna and blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish and spearfish from longline bycatch mortality. A CITES listing would restrict international trade in bluefin until real conservation measures are in place, but it would not stop U.S. restaurants from purchasing fresh bluefin tuna landed by U.S. vessels to support the domestic market. <U>To us, this is a clear win-win outcome!
</U>

The NMFS is also considering numerous means of increasing the U.S. landings of North Atlantic swordfish. This action would attempt to allow the U.S. fleet to catch the quota currently given to the U.S. by ICCAT. Swordfish stocks in the Atlantic have recovered in response to international quotas, closed areas and good spawning success in recent years. However, we caution that if the fishing on this young stock increases dramatically, the stock may again be driven into an overfished condition. Given the present sustainable level of stock abundance, an increase in the landings of swordfish by the U.S. fleet seems warranted. TBF opposes any effort to re-open the South Atlantic waters from Key West to Charleston and the Gulf of Mexico longline closed areas in the DeSoto Canyon region. TBF supports increases in the size of large U.S. longline vessels to allow for safe operation on the high seas. Any increases must seek to avoid increasing conflicts between users groups and gear types.

TBF is pleased that the NMFS is willing to consider constructive changes to the Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan. Now is the time for anglers and conservationists to demand much needed reductions in the bycatch mortality of Atlantic marlin and bluefin tuna in the Gulf and a CITES listing to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna throughout their range.<U>
</U>

<U>Please copy the attached letter, modify it as you see fit and email it to the NMFS, USFWS and also to your Congressmen and Senators. It is time they realize that the recreational billfishing community, which also fishes for tunas in the Gulf, is one that needs to be counted and its economic impact and voluntary conservation ethic appreciated.
</U>

Those interested in learning more about CITES can find that information by clicking here.</DIV></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><A name=LETTER.BLOCK10><TABLE id=content_LETTER.BLOCK10 hideFocus style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 10px" tabIndex=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width="100%" border=0 aria-posinset="0" aria-setsize="0" aria-level="0"><TBODY><TR><TD style="FONT-SIZE: 14pt; COLOR: #6699cc; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana,Geneva,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #d4dde6" align=left><DIV align=center>Email NMFS:</DIV><DIV align=center>[email protected]</DIV><DIV align=center>[email protected]</DIV></TD></TR><TR><TD style="FONT-SIZE: 8pt; COLOR: #285685; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana,Geneva,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif" align=left><DIV align=center></DIV><DIV align=left>Margo Schulze-Haugen, Chief
NMFS
Office of Highly Migratory Species

Dear Ms. Schulze-Haugen:

As a concerned angler and conservationist, I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking as they related to the need to amend regulations that affect billfish, bluefin tuna and swordfish. First, I believe that the NMFS needs to provide more time for the angling public in the Gulf of Mexico to understand the potential impacts of the NMFS current proposed rulemaking action that would have a direct impact on marlin, billfish, bluefin tuna and recreational fishing opportunities. I think an extension of the public comment period is in order; however, given the current deadline for comments I offer the following.

Given the severely overfished condition of Atlantic bluefin tuna and white and blue marlin stocks, the NMFS must reduce the fishing mortality on these species by closing the Gulf of Mexico to all longline fishing between March and September of each year. This closure will allow for a complete implementation of the ICCAT Resolution closing the Gulf to bluefin tuna harvest, providing new and significant protection to spawning bluefin tuna and severely overfished Atlantic marlin stocks during the period of the highest incidence of billfish bycatch in the Gulf of Mexico. Other species killed as bycatch would benefit as well.

The U.S. should sponsor and achieve a CITES listing for Atlantic bluefin tuna. This action will provide immediate protection for the species internationally, it will reduce the mortality on eastern bluefin that is seriously reducing our harvests of this species in the western Atlantic and it will allow the marketing of fresh, U.S. caught bluefin in the U.S. to continue and ultimately to expand in this country - truly a win-win outcome.

Finally, given the recovery of swordfish to sustainable levels, I support measures that would increase the landings of swordfish by the U.S. fleet provided that there be no attempt to re-open the South Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico longline closed areas that are successfully protecting billfish, juvenile swordfish and sea turtles. Any changes must avoid increasing conflicts between user groups and gear types.

Thank you for considering my views.

(Signature and address)</DIV></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><A name=LETTER.BLOCK11><TABLE id=content_LETTER.BLOCK11 hideFocus style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 10px" tabIndex=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width="100%" border=0 aria-posinset="0" aria-setsize="0" aria-level="0"><TBODY><TR><TD style="FONT-SIZE: 14pt; COLOR: #6699cc; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana,Geneva,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #d4dde6" align=left><DIV align=center>Email USFWS:</DIV><DIV align=center>[email protected]</DIV></TD></TR><TR><TD style="FONT-SIZE: 8pt; COLOR: #285685; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana,Geneva,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif" align=left><DIV align=center></DIV><DIV align=left>Rosemarie Gnam
Chief, Division of Scientific Authority
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Dear Ms. Gnam:

As an angler and conservationist I want to take this opportunity to ask that the U.S. sponsor and achieve a listing of Atlantic bluefin tuna at next year's CITES meeting. The eastern and western stocks are both dramatically overfished and ICCAT's inability to take significant conservation measures to protect the eastern stock has been acknowledged as the worst failure in the history of international fisheries management.

A CITES listing will provide immediate protection to this species internationally and will allow for a controlled harvest by U.S. vessels to supply our domestic markets with fresh bluefin tuna - a win-win outcome.

Thank you for considering my views.


(Signature &amp; address)</DIV></DIV></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></A>
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