Gulf of Mexico Pelagic Longline Fishery

Introduction

The Gulf of Mexico the second largest fishery in the country, bringing in more seafood than any other location except Alaska. While Gulf Coast seafood is usually synonymous with shrimp, crab, and oysters, it is also home to a pelagic longline (PLL) fishery. The primary species targeted by Gulf the PLL fishery is yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) and swordfish (Xiphias gladius), though other species such as blackfin, bigeye, albacore, and bluefin are also landed. Other common bycatch species include wahoo, mahi mahi, and mackarels. In 2015, 1.3 million pounds of tuna were landed in the Gulf worth $4.5 million and over 250,000 pounds of swordfish worth over $600,000.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 was the largest maritime oil spill in U.S. history, resulting in the exposure of millions of barrels of oil and millions of gallons of dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf fisheries suffered significantly due to the oil spill, from loss of product from closed fishing grounds and loss of sales from negative perceptions about the safety of Gulf seafood. Additionally, many commercial fish species were impacted by the spill and the long-term impacts are still largely unknown.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) launched the Deepwater Horizon Oceanic Fish Restoration Project to help restore these species by exploring alternative gear types for the PLL fishery in the Gulf. In 2017, G.U.L.F. joined the project to interview upmarket stakeholders (dealers, fish houses, and restaurants) about the PLL fishery, gauge market demand for fish caught on PLL and alternative gear, and determine avenues for supporting the PLL fishery as a whole. This work culminated in a stakeholder workshop, facilitated by CONCUR, Inc, that was hosted in New Orleans, LA.

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Sponsored and coordinated by Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Authorized by the five Gulf state marine resource management agencies.
NOAA Award #NA10NMF4770481.