Bluefin tuna harpooners doing well; hook bite getting a good start

HARWICH, MA – The bluefin tuna fishery was chugging along in mid-July.  Dealers reported a somewhat slow though steady stream of landings.  Most were coming from boats fishing off Maine, as well as “a few here and there” from around Cape Cod.

The big news was that harpooners, for the first time in close to a decade, were having some real success.  As of July 22, the stick boats had taken 22.6 metric tons (mt) of their 36-mt quota, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

“It’s been great,” said Bob Kliss of North Atlantic Traders Inc.  “The water’s still cold and the fish are hanging out on the surface.  It’s the perfect recipe for a good harpoon season.”

There was word, too, that bluefin were biting.  NMFS reported that the general category had landed 68.5 mt as of July 22.  And sizeable schools had been sighted offshore, about 80 miles due east of Boston.

“A lot of guys are expecting the fishery to start up in their backyard any time now,” said Rich Ruais, executive director of the American Bluefin Tuna Association.

The purse seine season opened on July 15.  The one vessel still fishing in that category got 17 giants – all 500-plus-pounders – on her first trip and just missed a significantly larger school, Ruais said…


Read the rest and much, much more in the August issue of Commercial Fisheries News.

Read online immediately and download for future reference.