The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determined that the population status of Atlantic white marlin does not warrant listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which would have precluded angling for the species. The question arose in September 2001 when the Biodiversity Legal Foundation and James R. Chambers petitioned NMFS to list the species as endangered or threatened throughout its range and to designate critical habitat under the ESA. Last December, NMFS ruled the petition warranted further examination and began a comprehensive review of the status of the species. NMFS Assistant Administrator Bill Hogarth read the review and said, “Based on the review, we determined that, although the species has declined greatly from historical levels, it is not currently at a level that warrants listing under the ESA.”
While the U.S. fishery accounts for around five percent of the total mortality of white marlin, international longline fisheries are responsible for the vast majority of the mortality of the species as bycatch. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is repsonsible for the international management of white marlin, adopting binding recommendations to manage fish stocks for maximum sustainable catch. The U.S. participates in ICCAT-supported stock assessments of white marlin based on data from ICCAT-member nations. For more information, visit www.nmfs.noaa.gov.