Hawaii’s holiday sashimi could be in short supply this year if conservation groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, get their way in a lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday.

The organizations argue the National Marine Fisheries Services violated an international agreement to end overfishing of bigeye tuna when the agency announced Hawaii longliners could exceed their annual catch quota by using unmet allotments from other parts of the Pacific.

Bigeye tuna ahi

Hawaii’s bigeye tuna catch is the subject of a new lawsuit filed by conservation groups.

Nick Grube/Civil Beat

Civil Beat first reported on the issue in October when U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz lauded the decision, saying it was important to boost the quota to make sure there was enough ahi on the islands for families to enjoy.

But the Center for Biological Diversity as well as other groups find the decision problematic for a number of reasons. Not only have big eye tuna been overfished for years, but longline fishing can be indiscriminate resulting in catching other species, such as sharks, dolphins and seabirds.

“The solution for saving bigeye tuna is not creating a new loophole so they can be fished even more,” Center for Biological Diversity attorney Catherine Kilduff said in a press release. “We need to be smart about protecting this valuable resource, or soon it’ll be gone.”

Other parties to the lawsuit, which you can read here, are the Conservation Council for Hawaii and the Turtle Island Restoration Network. The organizations are represented by Earthjustice attorney David Henkin, who is based in Honolulu.

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