Environmental groups are suing the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect bigeye tuna that they say are being over-fished.
Filed jointly by the Conservation Council for Hawaii, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, the lawsuit is in response to a rule the agency adopted late last month.
It claims the new rule nearly doubles the 3,763-metric ton catch limit set by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention, which manages fish stocks in the western and central Pacific ocean, allowing 3,000 metric tons to be transferred to Hawaii fishermen.
The rule sets new standards for long-line caught bigeye tuna and allows fisherman to allocate half of their catch limit to Hawaii-based long-line fisherman.
“We’re not going to be able to solve the over-fishing problem for bigeye unless all nations play by the rules,” David Henkin, a staff attorney at Earthjustice, said in a news release.
“The United States should be leading by example, not inventing a shell game to let the Hawaii-based longline fleet continue over-fishing.”
Found in deep waters around Hawaii and across the Pacific Ocean, bigeye tuna is a highly valued sushi fish that’s popular in Japan. Environmentalists said its population, which has been over-fished since the 1990s, is a its historical low.
“The solution for saving bigeye tuna is not creating a new loophole so they can be fished even more,” Catherine Kilduff, of the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.
“We need to be smart about protecting this valuable resource, or soon it’ll be gone.”