AUGUSTA, Maine — U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe says she opposes listing the bluefin tuna as an endangered species.
The Maine Republican voiced her opposition Thursday after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration accepted a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity in San Francisco to review whether the bluefin meets the listing criteria under the Endangered Species Act.
Snowe noted that the review is a preliminary step in a multiyear process to list a species as endangered.
A member of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, Snowe said the decision to consider the petition will force American fishermen to bear the cost for other countries’ over-exploitation of the bluefin tuna.
The center said it petitioned for the listing because, “Overfishing of Atlantic bluefin tuna has caused a more than 80-percent decline from what the population would be without fishing pressure. The sushi market keeps prices for tuna high — a single individual sold for $177,000 in the fish market this year — and encourages illegal and unreported fishing.”
According to the center fishermen in 2007 reported catching 34,514 tons of eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna, exceeding the allowable catch by about 5,000 tons.