UPDATE (7/15/14 3:47 PM): Ed Zieralski of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Ken Franke, President of the Sportfishing Association of California, has confirmed with CONAPESCA in Mazatlan that the temporary ban (through calendar year 2014) of bluefin tuna fishing in Mexico DOES indeed affect sportfishing. There can be NO take of bluefin tuna in Mexican waters for the remainder of 2014.
Their notice read “In accordance with recent Mexican Government regulation revisions, the capture of Blue Fin Tuna (Thunnus orientalis) in Mexican waters is forbidden for the remainder of the 2014 calendar year. Any incidental catches are to be released. This measure will be strictly enforced by Mexican authorities. Please avoid any fines or penalties.”
Whether this affects the sportfishing fleet and recreational anglers is up for debate. There is speculation that the ban affects only commercial fishermen, given the cause for the suspension was due to the fishery reaching its 5,000 tonne (5,511.5 US tons) annual quota. Some anglers and sportfishing operations with ties to Mexico, such as “Gamefisher Sportfishing” in Ensenada claim that it does not affect sportfishing, only commercial fishing.
The local sportfishing fleet, including boats that were presently fishing in Mexico when the notice was made, believe it does indeed affect ALL bluefin tuna fishing. Some sportfishing boats have left Mexican waters while in the middle of their trips, while others who have departed since the notice dropped are now focusing on the yellowfin tuna and yellowtail that are present in US waters currently.
But as of this posting, there has been no official confirmation from Mexican officials either way that we can find.
If it does indeed affect all fishing for bluefin tuna, that would be a huge blow to the sportfishing fleet that is looking to have one of its best years in recent memory. The fishing for bluefin tuna has busted WIDE OPEN the last couple days, with many overnight to 1.5 day boats loading the boat with 30-40 lb bluefin this morning and into the afternoon.
Ed Zieralski of the San Diego Union Tribune posted to his facebook page this evening that “Ken Franke (President of Sportfishing Association of California which represents the interests of the sportfishing fleet) said he is contact with CONAPESCA officials in Mazatlan to try and get clarification, but for now, Mexican law prohibits the catching of all bluefin in Mexican waters.”
We anticipate there will be more information, and hopefully clarification and an absolute confirmation about how this affects sportfishermen.
Fortunately for the local sportfishing fleet, boats that fish 1.5 day trips and shorter, there has been a fantastic early summer bite on yellowfin tuna in local (US) waters.