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Commercial Tuna in the Gulf

Old 02-06-2019, 09:50 PM
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Default Commercial Tuna in the Gulf

This is something I've been curious about for the past year or so. Growing up on the Gulf Coast and fishing my entire life, never once did I hear about yft being harvested commercially in the Gulf.
Does it happen? What are their regulations? How do they fish them? With all of the fuss over snapper recently, it seems like there would have at least been a peep about commercial tuna and swordfish, if that actually is a thing.
About a year ago I started following Jensen Tuna on Social Media, and it seems to be a full blown long-lining operation in Houma. Piles upon piles of yft and swordfish (and snapper). Can anyone confirm? Maybe I'm wrong and it's just some sort of import facility? If they're really pulling off a commercial operation in the Gulf with the numbers I see getting posted frequently, that's just downright impressive. I'm from the west end of the state so maybe this is common knowledge, but I just figured I would've heard about it before.

With all of the uproar in the Gulf Concerns thread it made me think to ask about this, but didn't want to derail.

Also, if commercial tuna fishing really does happen in the gulf, hypothetically would putting a stop to it increase our recreational tuna numbers? Or would they be fishing wayy out there in totally different areas? Could Charter boat rec fishing be bigger business than commercial? Creating more tax revenue for the state?

In reference to the Gulf Concerns post again, maybe that would (hypothetically) offset the increasing recreational demand due to social media and the increased pressure due to new technology.
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Old 02-07-2019, 04:56 AM
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There are several long line tina boats based out of Panama City. Not sure what the regulations are.
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:02 AM
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In my previous job with the Coast Guard I worked as a commercial fishing vessel safety specialist based out of Houma LA. The largest fleet on the Gulf is located in Dulac LA. There are about twenty 60-80 foot steel hull boats in that fleet.

They use horizontal long lines almost exclusively. A few boats have been part of an experimental green stick program, but the results have not been good at all. They typically make one two week trip per month. They are limited to using dead or artificial bait. They use dead squid and whole fish (a small member of the mackerel family) for bait. The boats have a captain and typically four deck hands. They are 99% Vietnamese Americans. YFT are the target, but they also catch swords and oilfish (escolar) and to a much lesser degree dolphin, albacore and wahoo.

A break even trip for them would be 25-30 YFT of higher grade with some of the other species mixed in. They are happy with a 50 fish trip. The most I have ever seen landed was 117. Certain areas of the gulf are closed seasonally to take pressure off the spawning fish. The past few years have been hard on them. 50+ fish trips have been a rarity and trips where they lost money are common. Competition to the south makes it difficult too. The harvest methods are less restricted, the regulations fewer and the cost to land the fish are lower. That keeps the price our fishers get artificially low. On top of that boats from Mexico make regular fishing illegal incursions into our EEZ.

There are several smaller commercial green stick boats that operate out of Leeville LA. They are multi rigged boats and may target tuna on one trip then reef fish on another. They can do okay at times.

I don't know how the US industry survives. The Vietnamese fishers are older. They have a hard time finding deck hands. Their boats are aging and the money is not their to keep them up, let alone replace them. When these guys retire, I don't know who will run the boats. Nobody is lining up to enter the industry. We may see it become more of a smaller boat green stick fishery with just a few big money large boats left.
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:02 AM
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yes they exist

I have always heard the yft from the gulf don't have the shelf life of others

you would think there would be more doing it
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Old 02-07-2019, 09:42 AM
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follow jensen tuna on instagram. you'll be amazed how many are brought in
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Old 02-07-2019, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by MakoMyDay View Post
follow jensen tuna on instagram. you'll be amazed how many are brought in
guessing you didn't read the op?

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Old 02-07-2019, 10:16 AM
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Yeah I mean 50 fish x 12 months x 20 boats = 12,000 BIG yft annually.

There's no way rec boats do that much damage. How are we not just spinning our wheels squabbling over how many fish rec boats should be keeping?

I realize that's their livelihood, so I'm certainly not knocking them for it, but how is there not more of a discussion there?
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Old 02-07-2019, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by rbhankins001 View Post
guessing you didn't read the op?

oops
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Old 02-07-2019, 10:51 AM
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At least the commercial fish are sure to make it to your next dinner plate. And they have a national system of reporting and compliance. Also the infrastructure to process, ship, and feed these fish to millions of people.

dont fret on the Instagram stuff, nothing is going to waste and it's all above board. Theres observers (one post above!), quotas, cameras on deck, gps tracking.


the people that work hard in offices and out in the field doing fishery studies are getting slapped in the face by your assumptions of a free for all. Alot of people put in effort to make stuff like this work and be seamless just for you to anecdotally bash them based upon INSTAGRAM posts

lol
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Old 02-07-2019, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Fordy View Post
the commercial fish are sure to make it to your next dinner plate.
because we are not allowed to go out and harvest them like the brave industrial fisherman? (i'll take the steak anyways)

Originally Posted by Fordy View Post
a national system of reporting and compliance.
that is administered by boards with individuals with their skin in the game.

Originally Posted by Fordy View Post
infrastructure to process, ship, and feed these fish to millions of people.
millions of people do not need HMS species to survive. many foreign countries who legit depend on HMS to put food on the table have realized the fish themselves are of greater value swimming than on their plate.

Originally Posted by Fordy View Post
nothing is going to waste
true. a large portion goes to meow mix.

Originally Posted by Fordy View Post
the people that work hard in offices and out in the field doing fishery studies
you mean the ones assuming that if industrial fishing boats are harvesting X number of fish, then recreational fisherman must be harvesting XXX number of fish?

Originally Posted by Fordy View Post
getting slapped in the face by your assumptions of a free for all.
no one is assuming that industrial fishing is a free for all.
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Old 02-07-2019, 11:48 AM
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There should at least be laws against wild caught fish being used for dog and cat food.
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Old 02-07-2019, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Fordy View Post
the people that work hard in offices and out in the field doing fishery studies are getting slapped in the face by your assumptions of a free for all. Alot of people put in effort to make stuff like this work and be seamless just for you to anecdotally bash them based upon INSTAGRAM posts

lol
Like I already said I mean no disrespect to the industrial fishing industry whatsoever, and have absolutely no ill will for their livelihood. If you would take to the time to read the thread I referenced twice, you would understand that there's a huge debate over the sustainability of recreational fishing practices in OUR area. If the commercial industry's calculations are so correct, why is there such an uproar over the dwindling numbers from the EXACT SAME RESOURCE.

Also your "assumptions" about any fish going to waste that I, a recreational fisherman, pull out of the water are wildly inaccurate. I guess we just actually know how to cook here.
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Old 02-08-2019, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeepman View Post
There should at least be laws against wild caught fish being used for dog and cat food.
In what way is that being done with domestic commercially caught tuna?
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Old 02-08-2019, 08:14 AM
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Our GOM commercial tuna fleet is a shadow of it's former self. They are being regulated out of business. They will cease to exist in a couple more years.

Here are some of the regulations they are up against:
1. Individual bluefin quotas (IBQ, without it you cannot leave the dock)
2. VMS
3. On vessel camera monitoring system
4. Over 50% closure of various parts of the gulf, both permanent and rolling.
5. Observers
6. Weak hooks mandatory (straighten at 150lbs)
7. Dead bait only
8. Whole bait only
9. Gear length restrictions
10. At sea, daily electronic logbooks

Meanwhile every single other country we import fish from is not subject to a single one of these. Business is booming there.
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Old 02-08-2019, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by hamma job View Post
Meanwhile every single other country we import fish from is not subject to a single one of these. Business is booming there.
What are the main countries you are referring to here?
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Old 02-08-2019, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by hamma job View Post
Our GOM commercial tuna fleet is a shadow of it's former self. They are being regulated out of business. They will cease to exist in a couple more years.

Here are some of the regulations they are up against:
1. Individual bluefin quotas (IBQ, without it you cannot leave the dock)
2. VMS
3. On vessel camera monitoring system
4. Over 50% closure of various parts of the gulf, both permanent and rolling.
5. Observers
6. Weak hooks mandatory (straighten at 150lbs)
7. Dead bait only
8. Whole bait only
9. Gear length restrictions
10. At sea, daily electronic logbooks

Meanwhile every single other country we import fish from is not subject to a single one of these. Business is booming there.

On top of that, if someone were to manage to do well financially in spite of that regulatory burden, and want to replace their old boat, they wouldn't be able to afford to do it. There are new regulations that in effect say any new commercial fishing boat greater than 50 feet in length has to be built and maintained to classification society standards. That adds about 30% to the upfront costs and who knows how much more to the maintenance costs. In the government's own words they "do not have the data to support that the standard will save lives."
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Old 02-08-2019, 09:46 AM
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So American jobs being over-regulated (or over-taxed) and the demand being filled overseas. Sounds familiar.

So that comment about Mexican boats starts to scare me even more. Can you elaborate on that?
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Old 02-08-2019, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
In what way is that being done with domestic commercially caught tuna?
what do they do with the blackfin they catch?

and my statement was for ALL wild caught fish, not just tuna.
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Old 02-08-2019, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Southern Hooker View Post
What are the main countries you are referring to here?
For fresh:
Trinidad
Grenada
Venezuela
Plus many more

For Frozen/ Value- added its almost all pacific caught fish. Ecuador, Philipines, Vietnam.

Mexico is a big and growing fleet as well. Exporting to us and fishing the southern gulf.

We have an incredible resource here that has been squandered. It is really a shame. Plenty to go around for all the Rec's and commericial guys alike. They are simply being caught elsewhere.
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Old 02-08-2019, 04:41 PM
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The highest prices in the commercial market are for fish over 100 lb

I was told the Gulf lands mostly 40 to 80 lb fish and they don’t bring the big money


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