Survey to Help Increase Reporting Rates of Recreationally Caught Bluefin Tuna

Heads up to Massachusetts anglers who possessed a Highly Migratory Species Angling permit in 2020: a short survey about bluefin tuna will be making its way to your email inbox (or your regular mailbox) in the near future! The survey is a part of a study to improve catch data from the recreational bluefin tuna fishery, which is vital for ensuring a healthy future for this internationally-managed species.

Information on recreational bluefin tuna catch doesn’t just help keep harvest at sustainable levels, but also provides critical data for the Western Atlantic bluefin tuna stock assessment. Our fishery is unique in that we catch a lot of juvenile fish, and fisheries scientists use estimates of recreational catch to determine the strength of bluefin tuna year classes and the outlook for the stock in future years. In short, better data from recreational anglers helps scientists paint a more complete picture of what’s happening on the water, leading to more informed management.

Currently, managers collect recreational catch data through the Large Pelagics Survey, which includes both dockside intercepts and phone calls to permit-holders. In addition, anglers are required to self-report bluefin tuna landings and dead discards within 24 hours by phone, website, or smartphone app. This study focuses on self-reporting and how managers can increase the percentage of recreationally harvested fish that are reported, thereby providing scientists with the most complete information possible.

The online survey will take 10-15 minutes to answer and asks a variety of questions about your bluefin tuna fishing experience, behavior and preferences, as well thoughts about self-reporting and potential ways to improve it. Even if you rarely fish for bluefin tuna, we encourage you to complete it! All responses will be anonymized and will in no way be used for monitoring or enforcement, just to help inform future efforts.

This research is being conducted by scientists at the American Saltwater Guides Association, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and The Nature Conservancy. If you have any questions, please send us an email at massbluefinsurvey@gmail.com

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