If the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery is not closed, the bluefin will be functionally extinct by 2012 according to a new analysis from World Wildlife Fund (WWF). While the population has undergone steep declines for over a decade, fishery managers and policy-makers have continually ignored calls from scientists that fishing must stop if the Mediterranean bluefin tuna is to survive.
“Mediterranean bluefin tuna is on the slippery slope to collapse, and here is the data to prove it,” said Dr Sergi Tudela, Head of Fisheries at WWF Mediterranean. “Whichever way you look at it, the Mediterranean bluefin tuna collapse trend is dramatic, it is alarming, and it is happening now. WWF has no choice but to again urge the immediate closure of this fishery.”
The new analysis shows that the breeding population was cut in half in five years, from 2002-2007. At the same time the size of breeding fish has dropped drastically: around 50 percent in 15 years depending on the area of the Mediterranean.
In a news release WWF points to numerous factors that have led to the bluefin’s plight in the Mediterranean: “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.”
The Mediterranean bluefin tuna season opens tomorrow, April 15th. Last November the International Commission for the Conservation of the Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) decided to pursue a fishing season in 2009 allowing for 22,000 tons of bluefin tuna to be caught in the Mediterranean, despite calls from scientists and some members to close the fishery altogether for the year.
“For years people have been asking when the collapse of this fishery will happen, and now we have the answer,” said Dr Tudela. “Mediterranean bluefin tuna is collapsing as we speak and yet the fishery will kick off again tomorrow for business as usual. It is absurd and inexcusable to open a fishing season when stocks of the target species are collapsing.”
(03/16/2009) Yesterday saw the launch of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). Composed of scientists, environmental organizations, and the tuna industry, ISSF will focus on ensuring that tuna populations are preserved from overfishing.
(03/16/2009) Recommendations by international health agencies, doctors, nutritionists, and the media to consume more fish for better health ignore the fact that fish stock are collapsing worldwide, reports a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. “Even at current levels of fish consumption, fisheries globally have reached a state of severe crisis. Already, the demand from affluent and developing economies, particularly newly affluent China, cannot be met by the world’s fisheries,” states the new report.
(10/02/2008) Researchers have discovered a previously unknown migratory route for the northern bluefin tuna, proving for the first time that the species’ Mediterranean and North American subpopulations interact. According to the paper published in Science the two groups meet as juveniles then return to their birthplace to spawn. For a critically-endangered species that is still heavily fished, the new finding has large conservation and management implications.
(09/18/2008) In November 2006 a study on global fisheries received a lot of attention: employing 53 years worth of fishery data, Boris Worm predicted that by 2048 the ocean would be empty of fish. Essentially there would be nothing left to catch. Already, Worm reported, fishing stocks had collapsed in 29 percent of the world’s fisheries. Although scientists called for rapid and overhauling changes to fisheries, the fishing industry carried on business-as-usual. Now, two years later, a study in Science proposes to have found the solution to the global fishery-collapse.
(09/08/2008) Nobu, a pricey and trendy sushi restaurant with locations around the world, regularly serves critically-endangered Northern bluefin tuna to its clientele, reveals an investigation by the environmental group Greenpeace.
(08/18/2008) This year has been full of bad news regarding marine ecosystems: one-third of coral species threatened with extinction, dead-zones spread to 415 sites, half of U.S. reefs in fair or bad condition, increase in ocean acidification, tuna and shark populations collapsing, and only four percent of ocean considered pristine. Jeremy Jackson, director of the Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of California, San Diego, synthesizes such reports and others into a new paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the Naional Academy of Sciences, that boldly lays out the scope of the oceanic emergency and what urgently needs to be done.
(08/13/2008) To aid concerned tuna-lovers, Greenpeace has ranked eight of the top canned tuna retailers in order from most sustainable to least. Canned tuna from John West, the biggest retailer of tuna in the UK, proves to be the worst of the lot, whereas Salinburys is the most environmentally-friendly. In a press release Greenpeace said that Salinburys is “the only tinned tuna brand that is fished using sustainable methods”.