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A new study is creating waves among scientists, environmentalists and fishermen in the Atlantic bluefin tuna community.

A paper published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the western Atlantic bluefin population is “less vulnerable to overexploitation and extinction than is currently estimated,” according to a news report by National Public Radio.

The researchers believe bluefin are spawning in a new area of the Atlantic not previously recognized as a breeding ground.

The study is controversial and some scientists and researchers are urging that the findings be used cautiously. Atlantic bluefin are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, and the federal government considers them overfished, according to the NPR report.

Ecologist and fisheries conservationist Carl Safina is quoted in the news report as saying the researchers’ main concern “is not recovery, not conservation, but how their findings can allow additional exploitation and more stress to be inflicted on a very beleaguered creature.”

Molly Lutcavage, an oceanographer, tuna and sea turtle physiologist and co-author of the PNAS study, responded to Safina’s remarks in a sharp blog in which she called Safina an “enviro bully.”

“You’re certainly not the only enviro bully out there, not the only one wrong again, but this time, I’m calling you out,” wrote Lutcavage, director of the Large Pelagics Research Center at the School for the Environment at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

The title of Lutcavage’s blog is Environmental Bullies: How conservation ideologues attack scientists who don’t agree with them.


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