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Feds Just Upped The Catch Limit On A Fish Environmentalists Claim Is Endangered

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will allow fishermen to catch 30 metric tons more Atlantic bluefin tuna in 2017, according to a rule published in the Federal Register Wednesday.

The NMFS is transferring tuna from its “reserve category,” a fixed amount of catchable fish held in reserve, into the “harpoon category,” the total amount fishermen are able to catch under a harpoon license.

The bluefin tuna was denied “endangered”status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on Aug. 8 after the Department of Commerce (DOC) found that the fish was not facing any significant threat of extinction.

A petition from the Center of Biological Diversity (CBD) to list the fish under the ESA triggered the Commerce Department’s review. The review began under former President Barack Obama, and lasted for 12 months before the NMFS issued its findings, according to the Federal Register.

The CBD based its petition on work done by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN found that the tuna was in danger of extinction if actions were taken to preserve and protect it.

“Pacific bluefin tuna will spiral toward extinction unless we protect them. The Endangered Species Act works, but not when the Trump administration ignores the plight of animals that need help,” CBD attorney Catherine Kilduff said in a statement after the bluefin was denied federal protection. “This disappointing decision makes it even more important for consumers and restaurateurs to boycott bluefin until the species recovers.”

Andrea Vacchiano contributed to this report.

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