Update on Bluefin Tuna Management

Captain Ray Rosher of Miami leaders a giant bluefin tuna for Roy Merritt, Jr., while fishing off Cat Cay last summer. The catch is featured in the new feature from Costa Films, "Bluefin on the Line." Photo by Amanda Perryman.

Ever dream of catching a bluefin tuna? From the 1940s to the 1970s, there was an amazing fishery for these big tunas along the eastern edge of the Florida Straits. But in more recent decades, bluefin have fallen on hard times, with their populations 80 to 90 percent reduced as a result of serial overfishing, mostly for the sushi markets. Costa Films recently premiered a documentary collecting archival images, interviews and data about the tuna runs–and capped the production with an exploratory trip in the summer of 2013, aboard a 37-foot Merritt.

Also, recently the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, or ICCAT, held a meeting in Spain to discuss ocean-wide management of bluefin and other highly migratory species.

Two important U.S. conservation groups, The Billfish Foundation and Wild Oceans, have issued commentary about the ICCAT negotiations, as well as ongoing management plans in U.S. waters. Andrew Cox, a Science and Policy Specialist for TBF, indicated the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has an opportunity to implement a 3-month longline closure in the Gulf of Mexico during the prime months for bluefin spawning, March-June. “Additionally, TBF is pushing for a 4-month closure,” he said, “which would increase both benefits to billfish as well as allow for any seasonal changes in bluefin migrations.”

Click here for news from The Billfish Foundation.

Click here for news from Wild Oceans.

Here’s a little more about Bluefin on the Line, from Costa Del Mar:

If you’re an offshore angler in South Florida, chances are, you know the Merritt family. In addition to founding and running Merritt Boat and Engine Works, the family name is synonymous with bluefin tuna fishing in and around Bimini and Cat Cay, otherwise known as Tuna Alley.

Costa’s latest film, Bluefin on the Line, follows Roy Merritt, Jr., grandson of company founder Allen Merritt, as he positions himself to take the helm of the family business. Past and future collide in the film as three generations work to secure the family’s place in offshore angling history.

The film follows Allen, Roy Merritt, Sr. and Merritt, Jr., into Tuna Alley alongside Capts. Bill Harrison and Ray Rosher, on a bluefin tuna fishing quest even seasoned anglers spend a lifetime trying to accomplish. Will Allen, one of the original bluefin tuna anglers and IGFA Hall of Fame member, be able to show Merritt, Jr. how it’s done? Or will grandson teach grandfather a few new tricks? The fishing expedition quickly becomes a metaphor for the family business as it transitions from old to new.

Narrated by John Patrick Hemingway, grandson of Nobel Prize-winning author and renowned sport angler Ernest Hemingway, Bluefin on the Line also captures the history of Bimini and Cat Cay, displayed as a story between the haves and the have-nots. The film delves into the rich history of the area – showing stark contrast between sport fishing’s “golden era” of the 1950s when bluefin tuna were so abundant they were often discarded after being brought to shore, to the current state of the fishery, where a drastically reduced fish population migrates through each season.

“The Merritt family has helped define offshore angling in South Florida as we know it today,” said Al Perkinson, executive producer of Costa Films. “They bring such a rich heritage to the fishing community, and we wanted to share their story with a broader audience.”

Costa is quickly becoming as well known for its quality film projects as it is for creating the clearest polarized performance sunglasses. The company’s film, Jungle Fish, won an award from the Sundance Institute and Hilton Worldwide for its story about how fly fishing could save the fate of Guyana’s economy. Other films include the exploration journey GeoFish: vol. 1, Blue Highway, and Bass Life, starring Bassmaster Elite Series angler Casey Ashley.

Bluefin on the Line is available for purchase for $14.95 online at www.costadelmar.com. The film will also be shown at film festival events around the U.S. starting in 2014.

About Costa™
As the leading manufacturer of the world’s clearest polarized performance sunglasses, Costa offers superior lens technology and unparalleled fit and durability. Still handcrafted today in Florida, Costa has created the highest quality, best performing sunglasses and prescription sunglasses (Rx) for outdoor enthusiasts since 1983. It’s currently the fourth-largest brand in the performance sunglasses market.

For Costa, conservation is all about sustainable fishing. Many fisheries that should be vibrant and healthy are all but devoid of native fish because they have fallen victim to poor fishing practices, unregulated development, lack of watershed protection or all of the above. Costa works with partners around the world to help increase awareness and influence policy so that both the fish and fishermen of tomorrow will have healthy waters to enjoy. Costa encourages others to help in any way they can.

For more information, contact 1-800-447-3700 or visit the company’s web site at www.costadelmar.com. Join the conversation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/costasunglasses or on Twitter @CostaSunglasses.