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Highly Prized Fish Makes a Return

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Wildlife experts are reporting increasing numbers of Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Atlantic Ocean.

Atlantic bluefins are highly prized by the fishing industry. The fish can weigh up to 454 kilograms. Its meat is often used in sushi products sold at Japanese restaurants.

But experts had been worried about the Atlantic bluefin. The species was listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The United States government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says improved law enforcement appears to be helping the Atlantic bluefin recover after years of overfishing.

The popular fish all but disappeared from the Gulf of Maine about 10 years ago. This year, fishers set a record by catching 30 Atlantic bluefin. One of the fish weighed 363 kilograms.

International regulators have eased the catch limits for U.S. fishermen this year, increasing the quotas by more than 180,000 kilograms.

But environmental groups warn increasing the new limits will undo years of wildlife protection efforts.

Grantly Galland is an officer of Global Tuna Conservation at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

'Scientists have been unable to determine whether or not the Atlantic bluefin population has recovered, so any decrease in the population now is bad for fishermen in the long term.'

Tuna has been at the center of a long battle between the fishing industry and environmentalists. Fishers who can make large amounts of money on a single fish. Environmentalists seek to protect the Atlantic Bluefin. Yet many consumers are willing to pay high prices to eat them.

Walt Golet is a professor of marine biology at the University of Maine. He says probably no other fish has been more politicized than the Atlantic bluefin tuna.

'From an environmental point of view it's always…'let's try to back off a little bit and make sure that we always have enough fish,' and on the other side you have individuals and organizations that they're making a living off of that fish…and that's kind of where the assessment and management comes into play. It's kind of balancing all of those opinions and viewpoints.'

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Julie Taboh reported this story for VOA News. Jonathan Evans adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

assessment n. the act of making a judgment about something; the act of examining something

consumer – n. someone who uses goods or services

determine v. to be the cause of something; to learn something by getting information

regulator – n. an official who makes and enforces rules

species n. a group of plants or animals that are similar and can produce young

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