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Moroccan fishermen release bluefin tuna after reaching quota

International cooperation essential to sustainable fish stocks

On a recent trip to meet with Moroccan fisheries officials, Russell Smith, NOAA deputy assistant secretary for international fisheries, and Dr. Rebecca Lent, director of international affairs for NOAA’s Fisheries Service, motored into the Atlantic Ocean with Moroccan fishermen to watch them release bluefin tuna after the quota was reached.

By honoring internationally-established quota limits and returning live bluefin tuna to the wild, these Moroccan trap fishermen are playing a part in the international cooperation needed to support a sustainable fishery. For hundreds of years, fishermen off the northwestern coast of Morocco have captured tunas in large traps. The traps allow fishermen to selectively harpoon fish that meet size regulations and release smaller fish alive.  

The best way to ensure the long-term sustainability of tuna, swordfish and other highly migratory species is through international cooperation, compliance with science-based quotas, and strong fishery management in each nation. Commercial and recreational fishing communities and billions of seafood consumers throughout the world depend on the long-term sustainability of these fish stocks and the protection of their ecosystems. 

From July 11-14, NOAA is hosting a meeting in La Jolla, Calif., called Kobe III, that brings together more than 70 nations that are part of five regional fishery management organizations, to discuss additional ways to strengthen international cooperation on the management of tunas, swordfish and other highly migratory species.