Jun 1

Atlantic bluefin tuna do not currently warrant species protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Photo of a northern bluefin tuna shoal

School of Atlantic (northern) bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus.

After an extensive scientific review, the NOAA announced on Friday that no additional protection would be given to Atlantic bluefin tuna. However, western Atlantic, eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks of bluefin tuna have been formally designated as ‘Species of Concern’ under the Endangered Species Act, placing them on the watch list for concerns about their status and threats.

The review was conducted amid concerns that the bluefin tuna fishery in the western Atlantic may have been devastated by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion.

The Gulf of Mexico is the Atlantic bluefin tuna’s only known breeding area, and spawning is likely to have been taking place around the time of the oil spill.

Photo of Northern bluefin tuna in commercial fish pen

Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The NOAA will reassess the status of Atlantic bluefin tuna by early 2013, when more information will be available about the effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The NOAA has also promised to take action in the interim if new information indicates the need for greater protection.

For more information visit the NOAA fisheries service.

Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text Author