A huge 881 pound Bluefin tuna has been caught by a fishing crew in Massachusetts, but the giant fish has been confiscated by officials. According to the ship’s captain, the fish was seized because it can only be caught by a hand-held gear or harpoon.
Captain Carlos Rafael said his crew caught the fish on Nov. 13, but state environmental police and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agents confiscated the fish because it was caught with a trawling net, which is illegal.
According to NOAA, under the international Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, it is illegal to catch Western Atlantic bluefin other than using a rod and reel, hand-line or harpoon.
The fish was caught in the trawling net while Rafael’s crew was fishing for ground species. The bluefin tuna drowned in the net, said Rafael. A written warning was sent to the captain but he has not been charged.
“We didn’t try to hide anything,” Rafael told The Standard-Times newspaper of New Bedford. “We did everything by the book. Nobody ever told me we couldn’t catch it with a net.”
According to Reuters, the fish was sold on domestically for $5,000. NOAA Fisheries spokeswoman Christine Patrick said the proceeds of the sale will be held until the case is resolved. Reuters reported that Patrick said: "Now, if you accidentally catch it with a different kind of gear, or even if you catch it with the right kind of gear but you don't have a permit for it, you have to let it go, even if it's dead."
A fish that size is very valuable and could have fetched up to $500,000 in Japan. Last year, a 754-pound bluefin was sold at a Japanese auction for nearly $396,000.