tagged w/ Bluefin Tuna
Seafood-loving Japan - having faced years of international pressure to stop whaling - finds itself with a potentially bigger fight over a highly prized type of tuna that conservation groups say is being fished to extinction.
A proposal to ban the export of Atlantic bluefin tuna - vaunted for its succulent red and pink meat - could slash supplies and drive up prices in Japan, the world's biggest consumer and importer of the fish.
Talk of banning imports of the species has made some Japanese feel their very way of life is under attack. The fish is often served as sushi, the iconic Japanese dish.
"Any ban is going to have a big impact culturally and economically," said Masaru Nakazawa, a 63-year-old wholesaler at Tokyo's sprawling Tsukiji fish market.
But environmentalists say the Atlantic bluefin is a vanishing species and insist a ban on its export by the world body that governs wildlife trade is the last chance to save it in the face of skyrocketing global demand and a failure by governments to abide by existing quotas.
Bluefin tuna, of which the Atlantic and Pacific are the most common species, is served in upscale sushi restaurants worldwide - but any export ban would hit Japan hardest.
Japan buys nearly 80 per cent of the annual Atlantic bluefin catch. Top-grade sushi with fatty bluefin - called "o-toro" here - can go for as much as 2,000 yen ($20) a piece in high-end Tokyo restaurants.
Atlantic bluefin accounted for about half the 47,400 tons (43,000 metric tons) of bluefin tuna that Japan consumed in 2008, the last year for which statistics were available. The other half came mostly from the Pacific.
Member countries of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, will consider the proposed ban at a meeting in Qatar in March. Monaco, which proposed the measure, said the bluefin species numbers have fallen by nearly 75 per cent since 1957 with most of the declines occurring in the past decade and that current measures are not enough to ensure it is fished sustainably.
If the proposal is approved, Atlantic bluefin would be listed in Appendix 1 of the convention, which would allow only domestic consumption within countries of the European Union. Activists say that would lower the catch substantially because shipments to Japan would be prohibited.
A ban would also likely raise prices for bluefin in the U.S. But the biggest impact would be consumer awareness: People would be prompted to avoid ordering bluefin, said Trevor Corson, the New York-based author of "The Story of Sushi."
"If (Atlantic) bluefin tuna becomes an endangered species, that's big news. That will wake a lot of people up," Corson said.
Some in Japan also worry that a ban could open the door for bans on trade in other tuna species.
"This could set a dangerous precedent. The list could grow to include the yellowfin and bigeye tuna, too," said Hisao Masuko of the Japan Tuna Fisheries Cooperative Association. "If nothing is done, we won't have any tuna at Tsukiji fish market."Seafood-loving Japan - having faced years of international pressure to stop whaling -... more
A tuna has been sold at auction in Tokyo's fish market for 16.28 million yen ($175,000, £109,000), the highest price paid in Japan for nine years.
The bluefin tuna weighs 232 kg - nearly four times as much as the average Japanese man.
It was caught off the northern tip of Japan's main island of Honshu, in waters famed for high quality fish.
Tuna is prized in Japan, where people eat it raw in sushi, but there is concern that stocks are dwindling.
Bluefin tuna is known as the king of sushi and the Japanese eat more of it than any other nation, according to the BBC's correspondent in Tokyo, Roland Buerk.
Conservationists are calling for a moratorium on fishing to save the bluefin tuna from extinction in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.A tuna has been sold at auction in Tokyo's fish market for 16.28 million yen... more
Trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna would be banned and trade in certain types of shark controlled if the recommendations of a United Nations-backed group of independent experts are accepted by the parties to an international treaty on endangered species.
The proposals by the advisory panel of experts convened by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will be submitted to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) at its 15th Conference in Doha, Qatar, in March.
Following a six-day review, a majority of the 22 experts from 15 countries agreed that the available evidence supported the proposed listing of Atlantic bluefin tuna under CITES Appendix I, which calls for an outright ban on trade, although they failed to reach a consensus.
There was a consensus, however, that available evidence supported including Atlantic bluefin tuna on Appendix II, which entails controlled trading. The experts also determined that sufficient evidence existed to warrant placing the oceanic whitetip shark, Porbeagle, and Scalloped hammerhead shark on Appendix II.
CITES was established to protect wild species whose status is being directly affected by international trade, but it is not designed to protect species endangered for other reasons.Trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna would be banned and trade in certain types of shark... more
While the eastern Atlantic population of the bluefin tuna faces collapse, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposed decreasing the U.S. catch of bluefin tuna in the western Atlantic management area by 5 percent to 952 metric tons for 2010, down from just over 1,000 metric tons in 2009.
The 5 percent decrease had been recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which manages the bluefin tuna population in the eastern and western Atlantic management areas.
The U.S. share of total allowable catch in the western Atlantic management area is nearly 60 percent, with Canada and Japan nearly splitting the remainder. Britain and France have small allocations through their Caribbean-based fleets, and Mexico can keep "incidental catch" on the longline fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.
Earlier this year ICCAT ordered a 40 percent reduction in allowable catch of tuna in the eastern Atlantic management area (which includes the Mediterranean) that U.S. scientists felt was inconsistent with ICCAT's own studies indicating that a 60 percent reduction in catch - if not an outright moratorium - was necessary to rebuild the eastern stocks.While the eastern Atlantic population of the bluefin tuna faces collapse, the National... more
Sushi lovers, we’ve got some bad news. For a study that came out in PLoS One, researchers ordered sushi at restaurants across New York City and Denver, Colorado, and found that an alarming percentage wasn’t made from the fish it was advertised to be. More than half of the eateries weren’t completely clear and honest about the fish they offered, the study says. Some even mistakenly served up escolar, which can give people diarrhea and stomach problems.
Although their results were shocking, exposing sloppy sushi joints wasn’t their main goal. The scientists were trying to improve on a new species-identification technique, called DNA barcoding…. Their goal is to build a catalog of every fish species on earth so that anyone with a handheld DNA reader could definitively identify fish within minutes [Wired.com].
One reason researchers investigated sushi is that so much of it has been made from endangered species like the bluefin tuna. In the restaurants that lead scientist George Amato checked out, the device showed 25 percent of what was labeled as tuna on sushi menus was bluefin, Amato said. The device also has been used to identify the presence of endangered whales in Asian markets and fraud in the labeling of caviar and red snapper [UPI].
This study comes in the wake of an international ruling that reduces the quota for bluefin catch from 22,000 metric tons annually to 13,500 for 2010. But that isn’t enough for many environmentalists, nor for The New York Times editorial board, which this weekend called for the United States to list bluefin under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The law effectively bars commercial trade in any listed species, and has been helpful in protecting other animals like elephants and whales [The New York Times].
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/11/24/nyc-sushi-contains-endangered-bluefin-tuna-and-other-surpises-dna-barcoding-shows/Sushi lovers, we’ve got some bad news. For a study that came out in PLoS One,... more
At A meeting last week in South Korea of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) delegates agreed to average quota cuts of 20% while the Australian quota was cut by 30%.
However the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC warned a 20 % cut in Southern Bluefin Tuna catches could still be too little, too late for the species which is on the brink of collapse.
Speaking at the conclusion of the CCSBT meeting in Jeju Island, South Korea, TRAFFIC’s Global Marine Programme Leader Glenn Sant said that even under a best case scenario, the Southern Bluefin Tuna populations would not recover for many years.
“The members agree it is a crisis with the breeding stock being somewhere between three and eight per cent of its original level,” said Sant.
“A 20 per cent cut is a step towards resolving the terribly low level of Southern Bluefin Tuna tock, with the scientific assessment of the scenario saying there could be recovery, but only after many years.”
WWF and TRAFFIC had asked for a temporary closure of the fishery, while Australia had requested a 50 per cent cut in catches.
On the other side of the world, the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna has been proposed for an international trade ban under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), with WWF also to press a forthcoming meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas for a moratorium on the fishery.
Both fisheries are plagued with illegal and over-fishing.
“Our biggest concern is the need to reduce illegal catches and ensure that members stick to their quotas so that we don’t have some members withdrawing from the bank while others bank recovery for the future,” said Sant.At A meeting last week in South Korea of the Commission for the Conservation of... more
Asian demand for bluefin tuna, sharks' fins and ivory will come under scrutiny when 175 member states of the UN wildlife trade agency meet to consider trade restrictions, according to documents seen by AFP.
Proposals to restrict or ban international trade in those three products are due to be studied when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) holds its next triennial meeting in Qatar next year.
Monaco has tabled a ban for trade in tuna, while the European Union and the United States have proposed limits on the global trade of several shark species, the documents showed.
Meanwhile, Tanzania and Zambia are asking for a trade embargo on ivory to be lifted, allowing them to sell controlled quantities of elephants' tusks.
The consumption of sharks' fins -- a Chinese culinary delicacy -- is expected to be among key issues on the table at the Qatar meeting, officials said.
The United States and Palau had put in proposals to restrict international trade in white tip sharks and hammerhead sharks, while the European Union has proposed protecting porbeagle sharks, also known as Lamna nasus.
White tips and hammerheads have been "over-exploited" for their fins, said Washington in its submission.
Likewise, the EU warned: "Unsustainable target fisheries for Lamna nasus in parts of its range have been driven by international trade demand for its high value meat."
For environmental group Oceana, the moves marked a "realistic first step" in the promotion of sustainable trade in sharks.
"This could be the turning point for sharks. If countries join together now we can promote the sustainable trade of sharks worldwide," Courtney Sakai, Oceana senior campaign director told AFP.
Oceana also pointed to Monaco's request for a ban in bluefin tuna trade.
"This is the last chance for fisheries managers to show they are competent to manage these magnificent and valuable fish. If they fail, Asia may see its supply cut off, perhaps for years," said Michael Hirshfield, Oceana?s chief scientist.
According to the proposal put to CITES, bluefin tuna stocks are so fragile that the species should be classified as being at threat of extinction.
Monaco argued that tuna spawning stock in the Mediterranean has declined by more than 74 percent between 1957 to 2007, the bulk of it in the last decade.
Tuna stock in the west Atlantic has also plunged by 83 percent between 1970 to 2007, it added.Asian demand for bluefin tuna, sharks' fins and ivory will come under scrutiny... more
The prized southern bluefin tuna industry could be heading for a major collapse unless a moratorium on fishing the species is adopted.
That is the view of TRAFFIC, a program of the conservation organisation WWF, and several scientists who are becoming increasingly concerned at the low level of spawning stock and the low levels of annual recruitment of young fish to that of breeding stock.
Australian tuna fishermen are angry the benefits that should have flowed from large cuts to the quota in 1990, and then by 50 per cent in 2006, were cancelled out by years of illegal overfishing by Japan.
Several years ago, the Japanese Government admitted it had illegally taken more than 120,000 tonnes of tuna above their total allowable catch (TAC). The figure is believed to be closer to 200,000 tonnes.The prized southern bluefin tuna industry could be heading for a major collapse unless... more
A sharply divided European Union failed today to protect the bluefin tuna, as Mediterranean countries refused to back even a temporary ban on catching the fish, which is prized by sushi aficionados.
The European commission wanted a temporary ban on commercial fishing until stocks recovered, but Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Spain, France and Italy – which have strong fishing lobbies – blocked the move.
Environmentalists said the failure to bring in a ban was a further step toward the bluefin tuna's commercial extinction.
"They are pushing tuna to the point of no return," Xavier Pastor, of the Oceana protection group, said. "It is deplorable that the EU member states who are mostly responsible for the depletion of bluefin tuna stocks refused to agree to a measure that would have helped to reverse the situation."
The commission had hoped the EU would present a united stand at the next meeting of the inter-governmental International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT), which manages the conservation of tuna. It now seems unlikely that a ban on fishing bluefin tuna will be pushed through when the group meets in Brazil in November.
"ICCAT members have to realise that the very future of this iconic stock depends on it," said the EU fisheries commissioner, Joe Borg.
Stocks of bluefin tuna, which has been hunted since Roman times in the Mediterranean, have dwindled for years, with Japan taking about 80% of bluefin exports. .Large fish are now a rarity. Fishermen often catch small tuna before they have reproduced and fatten them in cages until they are big enough for sale.A sharply divided European Union failed today to protect the bluefin tuna, as... more
The European commission today threw its support behind a campaign to outlaw trade in endangered bluefin tuna, meaning that efforts to rebuild stocks of the species could begin next year.
At a meeting in Brussels, the commission agreed to support Monaco, the first country to ban bluefin tuna trading, in its attempt to have the fish listed internationally as an endangered species.
Although a complete ban on trade in bluefin tuna is supported by EU member states such as Germany, France, Britain and several others, the move could yet be opposed by the big players in Mediterranean fishing: Spain, Italy, and Malta, the centre of the European bluefin industry.
"If agreed, the Cites' vote in March 2010 would result in a ban on international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna," said the commission.
The depleted stocks of the fish in the Mediterranean have hit almost extinction levels, according to experts, with bluefin tuna thought to below 18% of the total in 1970.
Stocks of the fish were decimated throughout the 1990s. Around 80% of the bluefin tuna caught in the Mediterranean is exported to Japan for conversion into sushi after the fish have been fattened for several months in European fish farms.
"Bluefin tuna has become endangered because of disgraceful fisheries management in the EU. The suspension of trade is a last resort and it merely buys the EU time to put its fisheries management in order," said Saskia Richartz of Greenpeace.The European commission today threw its support behind a campaign to outlaw trade in... more
"Sushi lovers may have to find another favourite fish dish after plans for a worldwide ban on bluefin tuna fishing were backed by the European Commission yesterday.
The bluefin is a highly prized delicacy, particularly in Japan, where one specimen can fetch £60,000, but spiralling demand has led to the near exhaustion of stocks, resulting in moves to place it on a list of the world’s most endangered species.
European ministers will make a decision on the issue this year, but are expected to back calls for the fish to be fully protected for two years to allow stocks to recover. A final decision on a ban will be made by ministers after a survey of stocks in November under a compromise agreement between the environment and fisheries departments of the European Commission.
“This decision marks an important step in the protection of Atlantic bluefin tuna,” said Stavros Dimas, the Environment Commissioner. “We must act on the best scientific evidence available to us — and scientists say that urgent action is needed to safeguard the future of one of the ocean’s most emblematic creatures.”
A small step closer to the preservation of the Ocean's life.
Hoping it will happen."Sushi lovers may have to find another favourite fish dish after plans for a... more
Monaco has tabled a proposal to place Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna on the list of the world's most endangered species in a move that could ban international trade of the fish.
As one of the most popular sushi staples, bluefin tuna has become increasingly in demand in recent years and its stocks have plummetted over the last decade in both the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
Now, according to a draft proposal put forward by Monaco with CITES, the UN agency against illegal wildlife trade, stocks are so fragile that the species should be classified as being at threat of extinction.
"At this stage we believe that the time for CITES to intervene is long overdue," Monaco said in its submission.
If the proposal were to be adopted by the 175 countries in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), it would end international trade in the fish although local fishermen would still be allowed to sell their catches in domestic markets.
"This measure wouldn't imply a ban on fisheries but it will eliminate the main cause of overfishing: high sushi and sashimi market demand of countries such as Japan or United States," said Maria Jose Cornax, a marine scientist at Oceana, an environmental group specialising on marine life.
Despite warnings that bluefin tuna stocks have been running low, attempts in recent years to simply impose limits on fishing have sparked controversy.
At the moment, bluefin tuna has no form of protection under CITES -- the only global body with the authority to limit or ban global trade in animal and plant species.
Monaco argued that tuna spawning stock in the Mediterranean has declined by more than 74 percent between 1957 to 2007, the bulk of it in the last decade.
Meanwhile, tuna stock in the west Atlantic has plunged by 83 percent between 1970 to 2007.
Even with a near-complete ban on bluefin tuna fishing until 2022, the population would still fall to record lows in the coming years, it added.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in mid-July that France would support such a proposal despite its objections to European Union fishing quotas.
Other countries supporting the ban include Germany, Britain and the Netherlands.
Monaco's proposal is expected to be considered by CITES' 175 member states at a meeting in Qatar in March.Monaco has tabled a proposal to place Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna on the... more
The Fisheries Minister has joined British activists, writers, actors and artists in calling on the Japanese fish restaurant chain Nobu to stop serving endangered bluefin tuna.
In an interview with The Independent, Huw Irranca-Davies urged Nobu to heed scientific evidence that the species was in peril from overfishing and said he would boycott the £80-a-head chain while it was on the menu.
As a result of fierce criticism, Nobu has put symbols next to bluefin dishes at its restaurants in London (but not elsewhere) advising diners that the fish is "environmentally challenged", adding: "Please ask your server for an alternative." But it has so far resisted pressure to halt sales of the delicacy.
The World Wildlife Fund for Nature estimates that unless fishing is halted, breeding stock of the bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean will be wiped out by 2012. At Nobu's two restaurants in Mayfair, it serves bluefin in sushi and sashimi dinners for £32.50, toro tartar with caviar for £17.50 and seared toro with miso for £19.50.
"There is regulated trade in this species but, while I have a responsibility as a minister in trying to protect this species for years to come, similarly suppliers and restaurateurs have their individual responsibility as well," said Mr Irranca-Davies, a minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Asked whether Nobu should take the fish off the menu, he added: "Yes. They cannot simply abdicate responsibility when faced with the evidence.
"I wouldn't be eating in a restaurant that serves bluefin tuna, but they have to make their own decision. There are other fish they could make delicious meals out of. They have a part to play. There is also a part for consumers to play to put pressure on."
With France, Britain is backing a proposal by Monaco to list bluefin under Appendix I of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, which would ban its sale. Some of Nobu's A-list diners have indicated that they will boycott the restaurant in protest. In May, 31 high-profile diners including Sienna Miller, Charlize Theron and Sting signed a letter to the chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who founded the chain, and appealed for bluefin's removal so they could "dine with a clear conscience".
Nobu could not be contacted yesterday. In response to the letter from celebrity diners, it insisted there was still "enormous demand" for bluefin.The Fisheries Minister has joined British activists, writers, actors and artists in... more
Declining populations of tunas received conservation support from countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean this week as governments realize how much damage overfishing has done to the world's tuna stocks.
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France today announced his country's support for a ban of international trade in endangered Northern Bluefin Tuna, joining a growing call to list the overexploited fish under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES.
Speaking at the close of a national stakeholder consultation on France's future sustainable fisheries and maritime policy, the "Grenelle de la Mer," President Sarkozy said, "France supports listing bluefin tuna on the CITES convention to ban international trade."
Sarkozy put this in the context of France's support for a broader sustainable fisheries policy. "Ours is the last generation with the ability to take action before it's too late — we must protect marine resources now, in order to fish better in future. We owe this to fishermen, and we owe it to future generations," he said.
The Principality of Monaco was first to communicate its willingness to sponsor a proposal to ban international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna, and has this week launched a formal CITES consultation process to seek the support of other range States.
Northern Bluefin Tuna is found in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean and the species is in trouble.
Contributing to the species' steep decline are the huge overcapacity of fishing fleets, catches that far exceed legal quotas, pirate fishing, the use of illegal spotting planes to chase tuna, under-reporting of catch, fishing during the closed season, management measures that disregard scientific advice — all driven by the insatiable appetite of the world's luxury seafood markets where Northern Bluefin Tuna fetches record prices.
On the other side of the world, hope for the future of the tuna stocks in the Eastern Pacific was raised when the Colombian government agreed to support an annual two month ban on tuna fishing.
Colombia's decision means that tuna fishing along the entire Pacific Coast of Latin America will be banned by all nations for two months a year to help protect the world's tuna stocks.
The ban is part of a series of measures introduced by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) to avoid the catastrophic collapse of valuable stocks of yellowfin (Thunnus albacares), bigeye (Thunnus obesus) and skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis) tuna.
Studies carried out by the IATTC showed a rapid deterioration of tuna populations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean – particularly bigeye – and data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization states that yellowfin tuna has been "fully exploited" in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, meaning that stocks are seriously depleted.Declining populations of tunas received conservation support from countries bordering... more
Mitsubishi, the Japanese conglomerate best known for making automobiles and electronics, is being accused of helping wipe out the bluefin tuna through its efforts to corner the market on the endangered species. A subsidiary of Mitsubishi is the largest importer of all bluefin caught in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and environmentalists have accused the company of freezing the fish in order to sell it years from now if it becomes extinct. Such a development could come as soon as 2012, scientists estimate. Mitsubishi is featured in the documentary film The End of the Line, in which a former bluefin fisherman travels the world monitoring catches and claiming Mitsubishi buys and sells 60% of the threatened fish.
Mitsubishi is not the only culprit responsible for pushing the bluefin towards extinction.
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which sets quotas on commercial fishing, allowed 22,000 tons of bluefin to be caught this year, even though its own scientists advised no more than 8,500-15,000 tons. Conservationists often refer to the ICCAT as the “International Conspiracy to Catch All Tuna.” Commercial fishing operations, including those with ties to Italian mobs, often ignore commission rules, such as those banning the use of airplanes to spot tuna shoals, leading to overfishing that may be as high as 60,000 tons of bluefin annually.Mitsubishi, the Japanese conglomerate best known for making automobiles and... more
A few weeks into the bluefin tuna fishing season and Turkey has decided to go it alone. Breaking international agreements, the Turkish government has announced that it will ignore agreed-upon bluefin tuna quotas. The news is not good for the survival of the critically-endangered fish species, since Turkey operates the largest Mediterranean fleet for bluefin tuna.
“Ignoring quota limits means that Turkey will simply bring an end to the bluefin tuna business even faster and once and for all, through the commercial extinction of the species,” said Banu Dokmecibasi, Greenpeace Mediterranean Oceans Campaigner, in Turkey.
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) currently manages the bluefin tuna. The group has been heavily criticized for mismanaging the population and long-ignoring warnings from scientists. An independent performance review of ICCAT blasted the group in September 2008, calling it an “international disgrace”.
While scientists have been advising ICCAT since 2006 that the organization must lower the annual quota to under 15,000 tons, ICCAT has yet to heed the advice. In 2007, 61,100 tons of bluefin tuna were caught—twice the quota set by ICCAT and four times the size recommended by scientists. The quota for this season is 47 percent above scientists’ recommendations, although ICCAT has touted it as a recovery plan. However, Turkey’s announcement places this quota in jeopardy.
According to a recent analysis by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mediteranean bluefin tuna have only three years left until becoming functionally extinct unless the fishery is closed, allowing time for the species to recover. The analysis found that in five years, between 2002-2007, the breeding population of bluefin tuna fell by half.A few weeks into the bluefin tuna fishing season and Turkey has decided to go it... more
As the Mediterranean’s bloated fishing fleets ready themselves for the opening of the bluefin tuna fishery tomorrow, WWF has released an analysis showing that the bluefin breeding population will disappear by 2012 under the current fishing regime.
Global conservation organization WWF reveals that the population of breeding tunas has been declining steeply for the past decade – and will be wiped out completely in 3 years if fisheries managers and decision-makers keep ignoring the warnings from scientists that fishing must stop.
The population of tunas that are capable of reproducing – fish aged 4 years or over and weighing more than 35kg – is being wiped out. In 2007 the proportion of breeding tuna was only a quarter of the levels of 50 years ago, with most of the decline happening in recent years.
Meanwhile, the size of mature tunas has more than halved since the 1990s. The average size of tuna caught off the coast of Libya, for example, has dropped from 124kg in 2001 to only 65kg last year. Data gathered by WWF show that this pattern has been observed across the entire Mediterranean.
Before the age of large-scale industrial fishing, individual tunas could even weigh in at 900kg. The loss of these giant tunas – able to produce many more offspring than medium-sized individuals – has a disproportionately high impact on the reproduction of the species.
The huge overcapacity of fishing fleets, catches that far exceed legal quotas, pirate fishing, the use of illegal spotting planes to chase the tunas, under-reporting of catch, fishing during the closed season, management measures disregarding scientific advice – and the insatiable appetite of the world’s luxury seafood markets – have all contributed to this dramatic decline.
WWF is calling for the immediate closure of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery to give the species a chance to recover, while continuing to encourage consumers, retailers, restaurants and chefs to join the global movement to avoid the consumption of the imperilled fish.
There is also growing support to suspend international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna by getting it listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) when contracting parties meet in early 2010.As the Mediterranean’s bloated fishing fleets ready themselves for the opening... more
If environmentalists and marine scientists are right, the world's remaining stocks of bluefin tuna, 90% of which are in the Mediterranean, could be on the verge of extinction. Says Alain Fonteneau, a marine biologist for France's government-run Institute for Development Research in Montpellier: "If we do nothing, in five years we will fish the last bluefin tuna."
But not everyone is ready to heed the warning. A week-long international meeting to save the species ended in splenetic arguments Monday night, as European officials thwarted a proposal by the U.S. and environmental groups to impose a partial moratorium on bluefin fishing and to drastically reduce catch quotas.
But European officials persuaded them to instead adopt a reduced quota of 22,000 tons in 2009, and 19,950 tons in 2011. That certainly represents a sharp drop from last year's estimated global sales of 61,000 tons of bluefin tuna — and even from this year's official quota of about 29,000 tons — but it's still far above the 15,000 tons that marine scientists advise is the limit that can be fished without without the species becoming extinct.
There is a lot more in the article than I want to paste in here. This is a perfect example of sacrificing long term sustainability for short term profit. In the long run, this is going to cause more problems economically and environmentally than doing what needs to be done now.If environmentalists and marine scientists are right, the world's remaining... more
Global stocks of the highly prized fish have plummeted by 90% in the last 30 years, and much of the blame rests with Japan, by far the world's biggest consumer. Every year the Japanese get through about three-quarters of the world's bluefin catch; 80% of tuna caught in the Mediterranean ends up on the Japanese market.
Faced with the imminent collapse of bluefin stocks, fisheries officials from 45 countries are meeting in Morocco this week to discuss bluefin quotas for the Atlantic and Mediterranean next year. Conservationists want a moratorium, but Japan is reportedly about to support a scientific panel's recommendation that the quota be set at 15,000 tonnes, about half the current level.
But while attempts are being made to rescue bluefin tuna populations in seas thousands of miles away, nothing is being done to prevent Japan's appetite for tuna sushi and sashimi from ripping through stocks along its own coastline.
Traditional fishing methods may be last hope for prized tuna in local waters.Global stocks of the highly prized fish have plummeted by 90% in the last 30 years,... more