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With the potential of a complete shutdown of the mako shark fishery looming, local recreational fishing advocates head to Morocco for the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.  |  November 27, 2017
As the U.S. Recreational Commissioner at ICCAT, Ray Bogan (front and center) had a busy time in Marrakech, Morocco during the week of November 20th fighting to assure American anglers sustainable access to shortin makos and bluefin tuna.

“The mako decision averted complete zero retention for our anglers,” said Capt. Mike Pierdinock, a charter boat captain (CPF Charters "Perseverance") from Massachusetts and a member of the U.S. ICCAT Advisory Committee. “There will be a size increase for our recreational anglers to retain makos” he said.

“The larger minimum size will be another sacrifice for U.S. recreational anglers, but it was the only measure available to help assure the survival of tournaments and the instance where a recreational angler lands a large mako,” Bogan added.

ICCAT also adopted a measure for western Atlantic bluefin tuna with a catch limit of 2,350 metric tons, which results in a 17% quota increase for U.S. fishermen. This level of catch has a high probability of avoiding overfishing in the next three years and provides for the sustainability and stability of the fishery. For North Atlantic albacore, the U.S. quota will increase by 20% in 2018.

“With the seasonal and early giant bluefin closures this past year observed from North Carolina to Maine the increase in quota will hopefully keep us all fishing for giant bluefin the entire year in 2018,” said Pierdinock,.

Capt. Pierdinock, a frequent contributor to The Fisherman's New England Edition, said environmental groups like Pew Charitable Trusts “had a difference of opinion and requested a decrease to 1,000 tons that contradicted the recommendation by the ICCAT SCRS that recommended an increase as high as 2,500 metric tons as well as our observations of fruitful numbers of bluefin in our waters.”

The United States and several other parties also urged the development of stronger measures to protect juvenile yellowfin and bigeye that recruit to U.S. recreational and commercial fisheries. The management of tropical tunas will be revisited by ICCAT as a priority in 2018.

“Whether is it bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye or makos these decisions not only impact the U.S. anglers but all of those that rely on such to make a living,” Pierdinock said after the meetings. “I couldn't be happier with the outcome of the bluefin and mako measures.”

Bogan credited the work of fellow ICCAT Commissioners, particularly our head delegate John Henderschedt, along with NOAA/NMFS and State Department representatives, and the other delegation members who worked hard for U.S. fishermen.

“We worked hard for flexible management measures to address the realities of the various fisheries that target shortfin mako, or catch them as bycatch,” Bogan said, while adding “our recreational delegation members, Mike Pierdinock and Rick Weber, worked tirelessly to support the U.S. positions and our fishermen.

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