PRO­TECT­ING FALSE ALBACORE

Sport Fishing - - ALBIE ADDICTS -

For years, ru­mors of large-scale fish­eries de­vel­op­ing on false albacore have abounded. While these fish don’t rank high as table fare, they still can be uti­lized in a re­duc­tion fish­ery, where they’re ground and boiled into fish meal, fish oil and other prod­ucts. Some spec­u­late that al­bies could be uti­lized on a large scale for cat food.

Given their school­ing na­ture and their pro­cliv­ity to show up at spe­cific times and places, they’re sus­cep­ti­ble to a large-scale purse-seine fish­ery. Re­spond­ing to such con­jec­ture, the fed­eral Mid-At­lantic Fish­ery Man­age­ment Coun­cil con­sid­ered adding false albacore to its Un­man­aged For­age Amend­ment, an ac­tion to pro­tect crit­i­cal for­age species from tar­geted large-scale fish­eries. In a nut­shell, the ac­tion pre­vents such fish­eries from de­vel­op­ing un­til sci­ence shows the im­pact of that ac­tiv­ity on the ecosys­tem.

Un­for­tu­nately, at a meet­ing in 2016 to fi­nal­ize the amend­ment, the false albacore was re­moved from the for­age-species list. While it was ar­gued that the fish is in­deed for­age for gamesters such as bill­fish and bluefin and bigeye tuna, they weren’t for­age for any coun­cil-man­aged species.

In­stead, the coun­cil moved to con­sider a small-pelag­ics-fish­ery-man­age­ment plan in the fu­ture, not­ing the im­por­tance of false albacore to the recre­ational fish­ing com­mu­nity. Such a fish­ery-man­age­ment plan cur­rently is not on the coun­cil’s 2017 pri­or­ity list.

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