Hawaii’s longline fleet hits Bigeye tuna quota early

Hawaii TunaThe longline fleet, nearly all of which is based in Honolulu, will now have to travel farther to fish for bigeye, a factor that could lead to better prices for Big Island fisherman bringing in tuna with handlines. Fishing quotas are set years in advance by the Western Pacific Fisheries Commission, an international group of 27 countries. They are based on historical levels of catch “and then reduced quite a bit,” said Eric Kingma, international fisheries enforcement coordinator for the Western Pacific Fisheries Management Council. Hawaii’s longline fleet makes up about 3 percent of the worldwide bigeye catch. It’s not clear why this year’s quota of 3,554 metric tons was reached so early. Last year, the fishery closed in August, the earliest the region had ever been restricted. “It’s the same number of hooks (in the water),” said Hawaii Longline Association president Sean Martin. Catch rates are 40 percent higher than historical numbers, he said. Read the rest here 14:16