Virginia Willis Blog

Wicked Tuna: A Deal with the Devil

Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society, one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations in the world, works to inspire people to care about the planet.

There were two magazines we weren’t allowed to play with when I was growing up: Southern Living and National Geographic. They were the “important” magazines. They were special. Now, an adult and a chef, I know Southern Living undoubtedly helped fuel my love of food and cooking. But, the magazine that has always been closest to my heart is National Geographic.

My first magazine subscription was National Geographic Explorer and as a child, I cherished each and every one. My memory is fuzzy, but I seem to remember the issues were thin and small, about the size of a half sheet of paper. There was a drawing of a man with a pipe and a hat known as “The Explorer.” Soon, the magazine changed its name to World Magazine, and I continued to read every one, cover to cover. All along, the familiar yellow spine meant for the grown-ups came delivered to our home every month, a gift from my grandparents. As soon as I was able, I read that one, too. I couldn’t get enough of exploring, of seeing different people, places, and things.

My grandparents loved to travel in their motor home. Often, my sister and I or a cousin would travel with them. We’d go away for weeks and months at a time every summer. My older cousin Sam went with them to Alaska, a trip I still yearn to take. The next year, they took me to Newfoundland. While on the ferry off the Nova Scotia coast I witnessed a pod of whales rolling in the deep blue water. Later, my sister and I traveled from Georgia clear across the Southwest then north up into the Canadian territory of Saskatchewan before we headed back across the entire United States to Georgia. A stack of National Geographic magazines with the familiar yellow spine and the appropriate maps for our travels, accompanied every trip. In high school, I remember having the National Geographic map of Europe tacked up on my wall; it seemed a million miles away from my red dirt road in South Georgia, but I knew I wanted to go there, and eventually, I did.

To this day, I don’t read National Geographic magazines – I relish them. Each issue is a journey and exploration into a whole new world. National Geographic fulfilled its mission with me; it inspired me to care about the planet.

Yet, today I feel betrayed, heartbroken, and sick. The National Geographic Channel will debut a show this spring called “Wicked Tuna”, a reality series that follows the lives of tuna fisherman in Gloucester, Massachusetts. According to media reports the series is part of a joint venture between Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and the National Geographic Society. Seemingly, the last vestige of what I thought should be beautiful and pure and good is not. It would be comic if it weren’t so tragic and absurd. It seems that the National Geographic channel has made a veritable pact with the devil.

Two years ago, Nat Geo proclaimed the “Eleventh Hour” for tuna and sharks. On its own website, National Geographic states: Bluefin tuna have been eaten by humans for centuries. However, in the 1970s, demand and prices for large bluefins soared worldwide, particularly in Japan, and commercial fishing operations found new ways to find and catch these sleek giants. As a result, bluefin stocks, especially of large, breeding-age fish, have plummeted, and international conservation efforts have led to curbs on commercial takes. Nevertheless, at least one group says illegal fishing in Europe has pushed the Atlantic bluefin populations there to the brink of extinction. 

It’s an absolute disgrace. It’s wicked in the true sense of the word, evil and morally wrong.  The producer, Craig Piligian of Pilgrim Studios is quoted as saying, “Commercial tuna fishing is brutally competitive. With its limited season, the intelligence and prowess of the fish, and the sheer fact that they’re worth so much, the livelihood of each vessel’s crew can be made or broken in a month.” 

National Geographic is capitalizing on and exploiting the very species they have declared to be on the verge of extinction.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch states consumers should “Avoid” all bluefin tuna, referencing the near collapse of bluefin populations worldwide. Last year, the Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seeking an endangered status for the fish, claiming the species faces possible extinction because of overfishing and habitat degradation. Ocean Conservancy states the species is overfished. The Pew Charitable Trust states, “Some species of tuna, such as the valuable Atlantic bluefin tuna, are dangerously over-exploited.” Pew’s Global Tuna Conservation Campaign is urging countries fishing for tuna to “enact strong measures that will lead to the recovery of severely depleted Atlantic bluefin tuna population, including suspension of the fishery and prohibit take of Atlantic bluefin tuna on its only known spawning grounds.” The list of organizations against bluefin fishing goes on and on and on.

As a chef and food writer, I care about the food I prepare, the food I eat. I work to educate my students and readers about responsible and sustainable food. As the National Geographic Society mission states, I work to inspire people to care about the planet.

John Fahey, Chairman & CEO of the National Geographic Society should hang his head in shame. At minimum, he and the National Geographic Channel have some serious explaining to do. If you’d like to let the National Geographic Society know what you think of Wicked Tuna, please shoot them a note to comments@natgeochannel.com

Sincerely,
Virginia Willis
Chef and cookbook author

CC:
Editor, the Washington Post
Editor, the New York Times

Photo credit: Virginia Willis

UPDATE: 1/24/12 MANY OF THE COMMENTS BELOW ARE FROM HARD-WORKING FISHERMEN WITH FAMILIES TO SUPPORT. VERY CLEARLY, WE DISAGREE ON CERTAIN POINTS. THE DIALOGUE HAS BECOME QUITE HEATED. WHILE I DO NOT APPRECIATE NAME-CALLING AND PERSONAL SLURS, I DO APPRECIATE THE PASSION AND EXPERIENCE THAT THEY BRING TO THE CONVERSATION.THANK YOU FOR READING.

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74 Responses to “Wicked Tuna: A Deal with the Devil”

  1. There is a reason Hunter Thompson called television, “a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.”

    Anything for a buck.

    - m

  2. Dave Marciano

    Hello be sure to tune in an meet the devil himself . Along with his three evil children …….

  3. Have any of you read the Science? THe Bluefin Stocks are at historical levels. The Bluefin Tuna Fishery is the most highly regulated fisheries in the world. Its amazes me that suposedly educated people jump to conclusions without doing the research. As I understand this show is based on rod and reel fishery. One line, one hook, not to be confused with long line, many hooks one line. Get you facts straight befor you publish such nonsence.

    • Anthony – I am basing my “nonsense” on information provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the leading authority on sustainable seafood. There’s no mention of “historical levels” of bluefin stock in *any* of the information I have read. Please don’t assume I haven’t “done the research.” I would be interested in seeing your research and documentation if you would like to share. Thanks for reading and thanks for contributing to the dialogue. Virginia

      • Dave Marciano

        The leading authority on sustainable seafood . Ok so all the science that is used for the regulation of fisheries of highly migratory species is not valid ??? Why is it the a NGO such as Monterey Bay is so much more valid . I see the montery bays opinion better matches your own ideals . So naturally why would you even look at sources that have a much more positive outlook . Sensationalize much

  4. I am in total agreement with you on this issue, Virginia. It is always interesting to me to see letters from those who are so vociferous in their disagreement (yes, Anthony and Dave, I am talking to you) but they are unable to provide any acceptable data for their points of view. I always have to consider motive when listening to these differing opinion. The motives of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, Pew Charitable Trusts, Center for Biological Diversity, etc., are to preserve a species that may be gone forever soon unless the rapacious overfishing is curtailed and the motive of The National Geographic and News Corporation is what? I think we all know the answer.

    • Dave Marciano

      I could post and past to hand feed those of you out there who are unawares. That would be force feeding you my opinion . The concept here is to try to encourage people to have and independent thought . If you got here you have a search engine use it . Citing the NGOs( non government organizations ) whom have a strictly fiduciary interest in these so called studies is well. Self serving , they make their profit from soliciting donations from the in informed public . Creating the illusion of ” the sky is falling the sky is falling ”
      I make my profit and support my children by accepting the data and the acceptable catch level from a source a government agency the is free of commercial influence . Most times I disagree with these findings because they ten to err on the side of caution . Creating far to conservative harvest for my biased opinion . But non the less I accept what is allocated and fish at that level . Use your own brains here accept the havest levels of some of the most advanced science on fisheries . Or accept the levels from studies that were funded by the NGO s that generate profit from the predetermined out come of said studies . It’s not science it’s common sense

      • QUOTE Dave Marciano
        Make my profit and support my children by ACCEPTING the data and acceptable catch level from a source a GOVERNMENT agency the is FREE OF COMMERCIAL INFLUENCES.

        Lets just study on that a minute.

      • Dave Marciano

        That’s right Joyce you got me
        My corporation is what the ” occupy “movement is all about .
        You busted me
        The truth is I’m about sustainable harvest by any means nessasary
        This includes dynamite , hand gendades and my personal favorite method of sustainable harvest
        Small tactical nuclear weapons !!!?
        Cover your ears. ” I’m going fish’n”

    • All these NGEOs you are speaking of are trying to privatize our oceans and the fish in them. Follow the money

  5. Geordie Sousa

    The stock levels of the Bluefin are currently at very sustainable levels with strict regulations and catch quotas in place. The science that everyone is stuck on is outdated and inaccurate. The government has failed to provide us with accurate science in order to inform the general public with the correct information.

    Everyone who has read this article is now dumber for having false information forced down their throats. I award you zero points and may god have mercy on your soul. I recommend you watch the show in order to get your facts straight.

    • I have yet to see proof about these supposed sustainable levels. Those that disagree with my opinion, yourself included, have yet to provide facts or site sources. The science I mention in my article is not from the US government, it is from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the leader in scientific-based, sustainable, ocean conservation. Thanks for reading, asking G*d to bless me, and lastly, thank you for contributing to the dialogue. Best VA

      • Dave Marciano

        Exactly not from the agency that regulates the for the conservation of atlantic bluefin tuna . So in other words it’s biological opinion or BO for short . They have a fiduciary interest in that opinion send use your money the worlds scientists are wrong . Bless your heart you simply have the same idealogical opinion of the NGOs .and believe any management of ocean resources is wrong . Do you know how fisheries get ” stamp of approval ” from Monteray Bay. ??? They pay them
        Followthemoney.com

      • Wondering if the fine gentlemen contributing to the conversation would fill me in the current stock levels of the Atlantic cod?

        By the way when it comes to government regulation there’s scientific data and there’s political lobbying. I know exactly what kind regulations money can buy in Washington.

        As for watching this show, for god’s sake man, watching men fish is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

      • Geordie Sousa

        This past spring it was deemed unnecessary to place an actual endangered species listing on the species. The quota has been achieved for the past two seasons, which is a sign that there are more fish around now than ever. The biomass of juvenile sized fish in the labrador sea, the Gulf of saint Lawrence and the bay of Fundy is enormous. there was even a large stock of younger aged fish seen throughout the Gulf of Maine this summer.
        The regulations in place will allow these younger fish to reach spawning age before being able to be legally harvested, and with the Mediterranean countries being placed under stricter regs the recruitment rate of these fish will move along nicely.
        You stated that none of us that are contradicting your article have cited any sources, while all you have done is continually repeat false information from one source. I recommend you do some homework as well. perhaps you might like to start by reading this peace from 2010 that discusses the stock levels.
        http://www.fish-news.com/cfn/editorial/editorial_11_10/US_must_embrace_bluefin_stock_news_at_ICCAT.html

      • Yeah let’s all pretend that all countries that harvest this stock are reporting all the fish they catch. As an American consumer I don’t believe your version (industrial fishing) of what’s going on in this battle. You’ve got too much greed and profit at stake.
        You can scream and shout all you want while the Atlantic Bluefin tuna circles the bowl. Your children and your children’s children will only have you to blame when the tuna are gone.

      • Dave Marciano

        As far as the gulf of Maine cod I will be glad to fill you in . We have been rebuilding that stock back from lowest levels ever recorded in 1996 the stock was doing nicely and was expected to be fully rebuilt by 2014
        Then enter the Eco frauds environmental defense fund be specific . They spent millions on getting “catch shares ” or quotas implanted in the New England groundfishery . What quotas did was what was easily predicted . They wiped out 15 years of rebuilt cod stocks in less than 16 months . It caused massive rapid consolidation and removed all the effort controls that were put in place over the last decade . It caused sever localized depletion . The vast majority of fishermen who actuall care about the fish opposed these catch share . But EDF gave millions to a small group of so called fishermen to give the illusion of industry support . If you way the truth about cod . Go to the Gloucester Daliy Times. Website click on Fishing industry stories . Do your homework . Why would green groups want to see cod wiped out ?
        If the cod stocks are rebuilt who is gonna send environmental defense fund money to save cod . It would take several pages to describer the corruption that occurs under the green banner .
        Lookj at it from my perspective. The evil fisherman. You cannot listen to me I’m biased and know nothing about fish . Just an ignorant fisherman who spends 300 days a year at sea supporting my 3 kids .
        So you have to have someone manage us correct ? So you have NMFS/NOAA hundreds of millions of dollars in science used to regulate the fishing industry .
        Then you have the environmental industry large corpations as big as oil companies in many cases funded by them as in PEW Environmental . They make their money off of donations Wich are only given to
        Prevent the ” end of the world ” scenarios . They say the government science is no good so the commission their own ” study ” to give the desired result . Unless of course the goverment science is negative then they can profit from that . So they want it both ways
        You can’t listen to the fishermen they are ignorant uneducated drunks
        You can’t listen to the government unless it’s negative ( have you ever seen the greens promote success stories ) do you really think there is no success stories in fisheries .

      • I’ve been to your website Dave and recognize it for what it is, a mouthpiece for the fishing industry. I saw a report from the Pew Institute on the cod levels and saw that website’s response which was to pick apart any possible issue to call the resulting data flawed and thereby give you just cause to fish again at levels that you deem are responsible and sustainable. However in your response above you never really mentioned how the levels of cod got to such disastrous levels. It’s called over-harvesting.

        I would also caution you to not put words into my mouth. NO ONE here has called you evil, ignorant, uneducated or drunk. I’m quite certain that your family’s lifetime history fishing the Atlantic makes you an expert and a valuable source of information especially compared to myself. But there’s also a history in this country towards profitability above all else. Don’t fault those in this nation who don’t want to see the Atlantic Bluefin go the way of the Atlantic Cod or the Chesapeake Bay oyster and who will vote with their conscience, their consumer’s dollars and their viewing habits to support responsible harvesting of the global fisheries.

        And I’m still not watching Wicked Tuna because it just sounds incredibly boring from a viewer’s standpoint.

      • Dave Marciano

        The cod stocks ate collapsing as a direct result of environment defense fund spending millions to convert a conservation minded fishery usiing output controls to limit harvest . In the past decade we have not caught our already conservative yearly allocation . Since edf pushed quotas out here the is no effort controls if you have the money to
        Puchase the quota you can bring a 200 foot factory trawler in and fish a mile of the beach my boat is a 38 foot gillnetter . Prior to EDF UNDERMINING due process in fisheries management these boats could not fish in these highly sensitive fish producing areas . What EDF DID was a criminal act and eradicated twenty tears of golf of Maine spawning stock biomass increase . This was not done by fishermen we opposed the move to catch shares for this very reason .
        Eco frauds need a crisis to
        Make money greed driven fishermen like me make money off of more fish being present in the ocean . What you are spinning as greed makes no
        Sense whatsoever if profit is my only goal .

      • Here is your Proof. You are getting your information from the WRONG sources. If you want to learn about blue fin tuna you should be studying information from NOAA and the NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service). They have the correct most up to date information and use it when setting the quotas and guidelines for fishermen to follow.
        The following is from NOAA’s web page.
        Biomass: There are two stocks of Atlantic bluefin tuna: 1) western Atlantic and 2) eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. The spawning stock biomass (SSB) of the western stock is estimated to have declined steadily between the early 1970s and early 1990s. Since then, SSB is estimated to have fluctuated between 21 and 29 percent of the 1970 level, but with a gradual increase in recent years from the low of 21 percent in 2003 to 29 percent in 2009. In the eastern Atlantic, analyses indicated that recent (2007-2009) SSB is about 57 percent of the highest estimated SSB levels (1957-1959). The agreed catch limits for both western and eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks are within the range of scientific advice and are projected to support continued growth for both stocks if ICCAT parties remain in compliance with the agreed limits. Scientists are expected to assess the stocks again in 2012.
        Fishing and habitat: U.S. commercial fishermen harvest Atlantic bluefin tuna using handgear (rod and reel, handline, and harpoon), purse seines, and longlines. While they are not allowed to use pelagic longline gear to target bluefin tuna, under strict regulations they can retain a limited number of bluefin tuna caught incidentally while fishing for other species such as swordfish and yellowfin tuna. Habitat damage by highly migratory species fishing gear is minor because the gear rarely comes in contact with the ocean floor.
        Bycatch: In the United States, rod and reel, handline and harpoon are the primary fishing gears used to harvest bluefin tuna. These gear types target schools of tuna and are generally selective. They also allow for the live release of unintentionally caught species. The United States is only responsible for 5% of the global Atlantic bluefin tuna catch (2009).
        NOAA Fisheries Highly Migratory Species Management Division manages the U.S. fishery for western Atlantic bluefin tuna through the Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan. This fishery is regulated through annual quotas, seasons, gear restrictions, limits on the amount of fish a vessel can keep per trip, and minimum size limits. Vessels must have a permit to fish for, retain, possess, or sell Atlantic bluefin tuna and must report landings of all bluefin tuna. Regulations prohibit directed fishing for bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico due to the area’s value as an important spawning ground, but regulations allow for a limited number of incidentally caught bluefin tuna to be retained by the Gulf of Mexico pelagic longline fleet. In addition, pelagic longliners fishing for yellowfin tuna and swordfish in the Gulf of Mexico must now use “weak hooks” to reduce the number of bluefin tuna that are caught unintentionally. These regulations are designed to manage total U.S. catches consistent with ICCAT recommendations.
        The United States supports research that concentrates on stock structure, migration, ageing spawning site fidelity, reproductive biology, and population modeling analyses. NOAA Fisheries also collects data on fishing effort and catch from the U.S. for bluefin tuna to support ICCAT stock assessments and reports.

      • “The cod stocks ate collapsing as a direct result of environment defense fund spending millions to convert a conservation minded fishery usiing output controls to limit harvest . In the past decade we have not caught our already conservative yearly allocation . Since edf pushed quotas out here the is no effort controls if you have the money to
        Puchase the quota you can bring a 200 foot factory trawler in and fish a mile of the beach my boat is a 38 foot gillnetter . Prior to EDF UNDERMINING due process in fisheries management these boats could not fish in these highly sensitive fish producing areas . What EDF DID was a criminal act and eradicated twenty tears of golf of Maine spawning stock biomass increase . This was not done by fishermen we opposed the move to catch shares for this very reason .
        Eco frauds need a crisis to
        Make money greed driven fishermen like me make money off of more fish being present in the ocean . What you are spinning as greed makes no
        Sense whatsoever if profit is my only goal .”

        Wow. So now you want me to believe that the whole cod fisheries collapse is the entire fault of the Environmental Defense Fund? That the fishing industry bears no responsibility at all for that? I’ve read your website and you make very little distinction between fishing industries you represent. Do you only speak for and only take money from small fishermen in Gloucester for your website and lobbying efforts?

        Canada banned cod fishing in the Newfoundland area. The cod recovery is slow at best but I’m sure you’ll tell me everything is rosy.

      • Dave Marciano

        Yes the Cod stocks were destroyed by EDF Intentionally . The cod stocks were recovering Nicely look at the agency numbers not mine . They want failure under catch shares if stocks don’t collapse the ENGOs don’t make money .
        Go ahead google catch shares for whales . Yes the whales are the next target of the Eco frauds
        Remember “save the Whales”
        Well you have not heard much about that lately . Now some of the ” leading scientists ” paid by NGO’s want to Implement catch shares for the countries that havest whales
        Why you may ask . Whale populations are rebounding nobody is sending the corpAration money to save the whales
        So now they Eco frauds want to kill whales to start their Economic engines again . Do you Eco
        Frauds have no shame at all

  6. Thanks Virginia for this post. I relished our collection of Geo’s as my father became a member in 1951 when you had to be recommended ! It seems nothing is as it was when we were kids. I’ll let them know how I feel.

  7. instead of targeting the Americans supplying food for America maybe we should stop japan from entering “our waters” and hunt fish that they kill in record numbers instead of persecuting the guys from your own country that follow the letter of the law and quotes set forth by the managing bodies

  8. JORDAN SANFORD

    YOU WOULD TAKE DOWN THE COMMENTS OF EDUCATED FISHERMAN DEFENDING OUR LIVELYHOOD….nobody was rude just stated the facts…typical journalist….next time get a credible source before you start with your knowledge starved propaganda

  9. You forgot to mention that in the United States, bluefin tuna fishermen have to adhere to some of the strictest rules and regulations. There are quotas in place that are set to maintain the sustainability of the species.

  10. Andrew Marshall

    The Western North Atlantic Bluefin tuna fishery has been a model for working with regulators and keeping within pre-determined quota limits. The seafood industry as a whole is undergoing a trend toward consolidation where small scale local fisherman are “regulated-aside” in favor of large scale industrial fishing operations. The show Wicked Tuna highlights a small artisanal fishery in the Northeast that should be a model for the rest of of the country.

    Furthermore, here are your sources for your “facts” regarding Bluefin tuna.

    The Monterey Bay Aquarium, a non-profit NGO that relies on donations to continue it’s operations. Pew Charitable Trusts, a historical anti-fishing lobby founded by Sun Oil heirs to shift public perception away from oil interests.
    Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit NGO that relies on donations to continue it’s operations.

    All of the above have a vested interest in continuing to increase their bottom lines through tugging on the heart strings of concerned bloggers.

    -Andrew Marshall
    3rd Generation Massachusetts BFT fisherman.

  11. Robert McManus

    Perhaps,if you try watching the show,you’ll learn something,and know what you’re talking about?

    • So this show is supposedly educational in nature and not an attempt at entertainment? Because the production company giving us Wicked Tuna is not known for documentary work. I ask about this important distinction because you never know these days. For instance, Paula Deen has a cooking show but we all now know that it wasn’t an educational cooking show nor was she ever responsible for promoting moderation in eating. No, instead it was really just airing for entertainment purposes.

      So which is it? Documentary or entertainment?

  12. Virginia I fail to see how a trustworthy documentary about a highly debated topic is immoral on any level? Regardless of your position, is exposure and awareness not essential to creating the to change??? I do not feel you have thought through this argument fully and suggest you update your article to depict as much.

  13. Fact, up until 2009, the US quota had not been filled, forcing more and more people out of the tuna fishing industry. Now, with less fishing effort, the quota has been reached each of the last two years. Also, Canada has its quota filled for the year in a matter of DAYS of fishing. They have a charter fishery that is regulated to 5 hookups a day, then the boats must return home. They have a THRIVING fishery, because they protect their forage fishery. The US on the other hand, under your chosen one, the former leader of PEW, is forcing more and more boats out of the fishery to set up an entire countries fishery to be controlled by few corporate groups that can sustain the regulations and help buy up all the quota and permits of the day fisherman.

    The hardest part to understand is how these organizations watch as the fisherman plea and plea to do something about the over-industrialized fishing methods that we allow to harvest our forage fish. Within a mile of shore, there were 150 ft boats towing a net a quarter of a mile wide catching tuna, striped bass and whatever else gets caught in 2 inch mesh, while targeting herring and mackerel.

    Yet she does nothing about this fishery, sadly I believe, because these large boats and corporations are helping put the smaller boats out of business.

  14. You are getting your information from the WRONG sources. If you want to learn about blue fin tuna you should be studying information from NOAA and the NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service). They have the correct most up to date information and use it when setting the quotas and guidelines for fishermen to follow.
    The following is from NOAA’s web page.
    Biomass: There are two stocks of Atlantic bluefin tuna: 1) western Atlantic and 2) eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. The spawning stock biomass (SSB) of the western stock is estimated to have declined steadily between the early 1970s and early 1990s. Since then, SSB is estimated to have fluctuated between 21 and 29 percent of the 1970 level, but with a gradual increase in recent years from the low of 21 percent in 2003 to 29 percent in 2009. In the eastern Atlantic, analyses indicated that recent (2007-2009) SSB is about 57 percent of the highest estimated SSB levels (1957-1959). The agreed catch limits for both western and eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks are within the range of scientific advice and are projected to support continued growth for both stocks if ICCAT parties remain in compliance with the agreed limits. Scientists are expected to assess the stocks again in 2012.
    Fishing and habitat: U.S. commercial fishermen harvest Atlantic bluefin tuna using handgear (rod and reel, handline, and harpoon), purse seines, and longlines. While they are not allowed to use pelagic longline gear to target bluefin tuna, under strict regulations they can retain a limited number of bluefin tuna caught incidentally while fishing for other species such as swordfish and yellowfin tuna. Habitat damage by highly migratory species fishing gear is minor because the gear rarely comes in contact with the ocean floor.
    Bycatch: In the United States, rod and reel, handline and harpoon are the primary fishing gears used to harvest bluefin tuna. These gear types target schools of tuna and are generally selective. They also allow for the live release of unintentionally caught species. The United States is only responsible for 5% of the global Atlantic bluefin tuna catch (2009).

    NOAA Fisheries Highly Migratory Species Management Division manages the U.S. fishery for western Atlantic bluefin tuna through the Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan. This fishery is regulated through annual quotas, seasons, gear restrictions, limits on the amount of fish a vessel can keep per trip, and minimum size limits. Vessels must have a permit to fish for, retain, possess, or sell Atlantic bluefin tuna and must report landings of all bluefin tuna. Regulations prohibit directed fishing for bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico due to the area’s value as an important spawning ground, but regulations allow for a limited number of incidentally caught bluefin tuna to be retained by the Gulf of Mexico pelagic longline fleet. In addition, pelagic longliners fishing for yellowfin tuna and swordfish in the Gulf of Mexico must now use “weak hooks” to reduce the number of bluefin tuna that are caught unintentionally. These regulations are designed to manage total U.S. catches consistent with ICCAT recommendations.

    The United States supports research that concentrates on stock structure, migration, ageing spawning site fidelity, reproductive biology, and population modeling analyses. NOAA Fisheries also collects data on fishing effort and catch from the U.S. for bluefin tuna to support ICCAT stock assessments and reports.

  15. Dave Marciano

    By the way Virginia
    As to twitter post
    The only hate emanating from the room here comes from you
    When you label commercial fishermen like myself who obey the laws , fish at levels set completely independent of the fishing industry while supporting my three children
    When you label us the devil and evil you are creating hate . I work hard to to the right things and teach my kids to do the same. We are not wealthy . Just because you have more money than god does not give you the right to attack myself and my children as being evil . Just because on a philosophical level you disagree with me supporting my children by feeding the nation . Do you think I am the only person who benefits from a dead fish …..,

    • Everyone needs to really simmer down.

      I am NOT against the fishermen, not AT ALL.

      I am not labeling YOU the devil. I am referring to Rupert Murdoch bastardizing the mission of National Geographic.

      I appreciate your input and expertise. I suggest you, too send your comments to comments@natgeochannel.com

      Thank you participating in this dialogue, let’s just all be a little more polite.

      • Dave Marciano

        By putting up this article the way you have and are infact labeling myself and my children as the devil .
        Look you Eco frauds can kick me all you want I’m quite used to these lies. But it’s usually done at endless committee meetings and hearings where a room of 100 Eco frauds all getting paid in I one of a dozen fishermen there fighting for my right to work . Obeying the laws that in a lot of cases I disagree with . But non the less I represent myself under due process and accept what’s handed down . Why can’t these fraudulent groups do the same . Whenever a positive thing is said these greeachines deny the data and fund there own studies . I have nothing to hide nor do my children have nothing to be shameful of . It’s the likes of this type of post that started all this that should be cometely full of shame

  16. Just one question Virginia . How many days have you spent studying BFT Prior to this press release ? Not to many I would think. I have been studying and following the BFT for the last ten years and if you would put as much time into your reseach rather than let someone do it for you (ie: NGO) you might see the increase in the last 5 years has been very dramatic. How about next time before you start talking about a subject you really evidently dont have a clue about just sit down so we dont have to hear your crap!

  17. Dave Marciano

    Well there’s always a good supply of golf shows or antiques road show to watch for those who like a little more “spice and excitement ” in their tv viewing !!!

    But really use your heads . To be honest I was quite skeptical when pilgrim productions wanted to do this . Equally skeptical when Nat Geo got involved . As a fisherman I am used to most groups like the ones posted who simply use the ” greenstick” to club working families over their heads while raising big money . Look at the Presidents and vice presidents whom are pulling down millions a year . Yeah they do it for charity out if the goodness in their heart (?excuse me while I puke )
    Do to think for a minute Nat Geo did not research what we are doing do you think for a minute that Nat Geo will come to this game without being armed with information ????
    The best thing that will come from this show is finally fishermen like myself and others who are constantly portrayed as evil ignorant and. Nothing but greedy and uncaring will finally have a level playing field and have a chance to show our side of the story . And be able to go up against these greed driven Eco fraud corpations and give people a chance to view the truth . I can only how that these greedy Eco frauds finally have shot themselves in the foot with their hatemongering campaigns against the working men and women of this country

    • Are you saying you and your boat was one of the boats to be featured on this program? If so, were you paid? If not, were any of the boats or fishermen involved paid for their participation?

      • Dave Marciano

        Yes my boat is there and my evil children . Yes I was paid about the equivilent of one fish that I did not catch . We did this for sure the money let’s see my boat leaves port daily . Not to joy ride , not to sail in the lap of luxury . We leave the dock to hopefully catch enough to pay the fuel guy pay the ice guy pay the grocery bill for the trip . Insurance worker comp ect ect its a small business . Do you know what that is ? I employ myself and up to
        Three men or women I have had two female crewmen over the years . If there is enough left over after expenses myself and my
        Crew take home a pay check . So when you ask did I get paid well Dur what part of greedy commercial fisherman don’t you understand . Well enough aboute Wich Eco fraud corporation do you grab your check from

  18. OK well try this againg Virginia,seeing as you deleted my last post.How much research have you everdone on bluefin tuna before you got the release of the show ? My bet is not much at all.If you want to know whats really out there in the ocean ask us guys that are on the water everyday not some group that goes and does a week long study to acess a stock and maybe even in the wrong area or wrong time!Lets leave the acessing to the slightly more intuned to what is actually going on .How about go and see what permits and laws you have to follow to catch them and tell me that we are in it for the money.We spent close to 30 k into our boat and permits just to have a chance. Lokk ay some of the data posted by NMFS and NOAA both which need to be dismantled and reoranized as is (if it werent for their lack of species assements being done every 10 yrs we wouldnt even be having this thread) with the new science and data coming in its clear you are on the wrong side of the fence!

    • Your post is not deleted. Please see above.

      Thank you for your contribution to the conversation. I am NOT against the fishermen, not at all. I appreciate you taking the time to participate.

      • Virginia, you say that you are not against the fishermen but your sources of information are. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, and The Pew Charitable Trust are all historically anti-fishing oriented agency’s. Look at the data I provided you above that came straight from NOAA and the NMFS’s web page. NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) was enacted by the US government to monitor fisheries and is over seen by NOAA. Their data is real and paints an entirely different and scientifically backed picture than the information you posted. Contrary to belief blue fin tuna fishermen in the US are held to the most stringent of rules and regulations but we ONLY catch 5% of the yearly allotted quota of blue fin by ICCAT.

      • Just saying wether or not you are against fishermen your post here paints a diffrent scene. By posting it you have told thousands of people BIASED information.Just do us a favorstop and think of where all your food comes from .It was all wild and domesticated or farmed was that natures course?Nature has a way of helping itself production periods change amounts of fish spawning changes as well as when they mature.Take deer for an example if lands start to become heavily pressured or go unchecked they breed themselves into deasise starvation and other illnesses but with hunting we try to keep the balance in check for a healthy population .The same will happen to tuna if we stop catching them! A sudden exsplosion of new tuna would wipe out forage bases and other species would suffer dramaticly! If you take both sides your info and noaa info combine them together and form an unbiased opinion maybe you wouldnt have written this.Oh and by the way I see some of your cookbooks have quiet a few tuna recipies in them JUST SAYIN!! So all in the end you are one of the contributors to “the collapse of the species” a lil hippocritical isnt it ?

    • Fantastic Dan, so if NOAA revises their data and it turns out the stocks are lower than previously indicated, you and your brother fishermen will gladly support any regulatory adjusts NOAA deems fits to sustain the bluefin tuna?

      Yaaaaah, fishermen for Federal Regulations!!!!!

      • We do so every year Shamu. Every year the quota is adjusted differently. Some years you can keep 3 fish a day and others only two. It all depends on the number of fish that show up in different areas and the number of fishermen that get to fish for them and how many they catch. And when the quota is filled the season is shut down. Some years the season runs 8 months and others it is filled in only a a few months. As far as the data showing that stocks are going to be lower, I tend to think that they are rising as the scientific data has shown a steady increase in the Eastern Atlantic stock.

      • As law abiding fishermen they have no choice!Shamu you need to get a clue buddy research what it takes to be able to leagally keep one and the laws you have to do it by as said before it is in the us the most closely watched fisheries in the WORLD and the US is the most stringent of them all !

    • Well said Better off getting a lot more info before posting such biased words. Ask fishermen not NOAA and certainly not any of the NGo’s

  19. JORDAN SANFORD

    Delete a few more comments…..even Ur fans are seeing your true colors……YOUR A FRAUD….STICK TO BAKING CAKES

  20. Dave Marciano

    Hey Sham u
    Where is this wedite of mine if I’m taking money from people I
    Would certainly like to know where to get my hands on it

  21. I added an addendum to the blog post as follows:

    “UPDATE: 1/24/12 MANY OF THE COMMENTS BELOW ARE FROM HARD-WORKING FISHERMEN WITH FAMILIES TO SUPPORT. VERY CLEARLY, WE DISAGREE ON CERTAIN POINTS. THE DIALOGUE HAS BECOME QUITE HEATED. WHILE I DO NOT APPRECIATE NAME-CALLING AND PERSONAL SLURS, I DO APPRECIATE THE PASSION AND EXPERIENCE THAT THEY BRING TO THE CONVERSATION.THANK YOU FOR READING.”

    • Dave Marciano

      Well now that this has ” run it’s course ” I propose a recipe swap to ” bury the hatchet ” I have Grandma Angie’s secret simple baked fish that I’ve been using since she showed me how to clean my first fish when I was a wee lad …. :-)

      And if you ever get up to Gloucester Ma
      I’ll hook you up with some fresh fish
      Right off the boat

      Sorry I got a little wound up

      • I’d love to bury the hatchet. I thought y’all wanted to cut me up for bait. I’d love to come meet you and hear your story. I spend my summers in western mass. Count on my visit come July.

      • Dave Marciano

        I’ll admit I’m offended by you article
        So I got a little pissed . I think your sources are misleading and inaccurate . That being said I had my chance to throw my two cents into the discussion . Sorry if you felt it to be a bit crude .
        Timing wise that’s perfect that’s the peak season for our bluefin tuna fishery . If your up for adventure I’ll take you out and show you with your own two eyes the fish that your bogus sources say don’t exist .
        I will garentee your safety you will be as safe as my 16 year old son who will be with us . I hold a 100 ton master license issued by the United States Coastguard . This allows me to carry passengers for hire .
        You know like that captian of that Italian cruise ship Lol

  22. Dave Marciano

    I just hope you use the same moral highground in all your recipes
    When having shrimp do you demand wild harvest from the most highly regulated fishermen in the world US commercial fishermen . Or do you buy the cheap forien swamp raised imports . The most environmental un sound choice . When dining out do all of you ensure your getting US caught seafood products ?? Or do you take anything most of it coming from countries with no where near the Environmental standards of US commercial fishermen . If you do not you don’t really care about the fish or the ocean . You are just like all the others pointing fingers at everyone else . You
    Seem to be forgetting Virginia the three fingers are pointed back at yourself

  23. As a consumer and a fan of Virginia Willis I know she is very passionate about sustainable food and encourages her readers to use Wild American Shrimp if at all possible.She is not “hating” on fisherman and always encourages buying local in all food products from fish to meat and vegetables if the consumer is able to. Ms Willis wants to find out everything she can about protecting species whether it is meat or fish and shellfish as my links show.

    http://virginiawillis.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/what-it-takes-labor-day-poached-georgia-shrimp/

    http://best.lovetoknow.com/What_Is_the_Best_Way_to_Grill_Shrimp

    http://virginiawillis.wordpress.com/tag/oysters/

  24. Virginia you need to spend some time on the water before you can act like an expert on what is out there. Reading a bunch of propaganda from enviro groups does not make you an expert.

    Bluefin are not endangered and are not even close to it. Check the stock assessments- there are MILLIONS of them out there. You are villifying small boat, hand gear, American fisherman with nonsense like this and maybe that is what you are trying to accomplish, but I sure hope not!

    You need to understand that trying to stop bluefin fishing is BIG business. This is a cause that keeps dozens of groups going and do you think groups making millions off of this fight will ever admit that things are improving? No. So maybe you should not believe everything they say or write. The bottom line is that bluefin management is well within the science on both sides of the Atlantic!

    Next time you get on your soapbox maybe take a minute and think about whether you actually know what you are talking about, or whether you may just be regurgitating lies someone else is telling the public. And also take a minute to think about who you may be hurting.

  25. willy hatch

    what a bunch of $&@&&
    as a commercial tuna and cod fisherman it pains me to hear people talk about something they know nothing about. us tuna fishermen have had the strictest regulations for decades. and yes the catch share program has lead to overharvesting of cod in the inshore waters of the gulf of maine the past two years. thanks dave for telling these ingnorant people the facts! and by way the listing of the bluefin tuna on the endangered species act was an ploy to stop drilling for oil in the gulf of mexico.

    • Thanks for commenting. You can have your opinion and I appreciate you sharing, but no cussing. Keep it clean.
      Thanks for reading and adding to the dialogue. Best. Va

    • Dave Marciano

      There’s no reasoning with these types it’s all about a political agenda . Quick hype to generate cash . I bet they all have bit the global warming hoax hook line and sinker . They feel the need to
      Punish someone else’s children because they feel so guilty about how they live their lives . Their not gonna let facts get in the way of their liberal polical moonbat agenda

  26. James Savage

    I am a charter captain and commercial rod-and-reel fisherman in the Gulf of Maine (which includes Gloucester). Anyone who is a true consevationist should get behind this type of commercial fishing because there is very little bycatch and it promotes a higher quality and more localized product. We can’t just stop fishing the oceans for food – that’s not going to happen as long as people are on the planet so why not support the most sustainable and least destructive types of commercial fishing. I am excited to see “Wicked Tuna” and hope that it raises awareness of what giant tuna fishing is all about and garners support for commercial rod-and-reelers.

  27. Koko Brown

    I still can’t get over how these fisherman can’t supply any data. Reminds me of hunters going after the American bison. Oh and I’m sure sharks and manta ray aren’t becoming endangered either. Thank goodness we do have government regulations and conservationists because we all know what man’s greed can do to not only the earth, but other humans.

  28. Tracy Figgs (Johnston)

    This seems to be a very late comment, but I ran into this website by accsident looking for “WickedTuna”s” Fan page! Before watching this show, I had no idea about the issues around the Bluefin tuna. Growing up on the west coast, moving to the mid-west in my early 20s, I felt i was aware of alot of the oceantic issues. Being a hobby fishergal, and an American beekeeper, the show drew me in immediatly. It has taught me to learn more about whats happening out there, in our world. Being aware of the DNR hobby regulations for fishing gives me an extremly tiny glimps into what regs these folks have to follow. The show has taught me to look a little deeper into what im consuming and think about how I and my choices effect, our enviroment, our eco-systems and our farmers, whatever they might be farming. Besides being extremely entertaining, the show has raised the conciesness of at least one viewer, like it or not! Thank you for an interesting dialgue too, Tracy

    • Thanks so much for reading. It’s a super complicated situation. I went to Gloucester last summer. Amazing fishing tradition — and awesome food!

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