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.
“The scientific advice shows that this so-called recovery plan would be better called a fisheries suicide pact,” said François Provost, Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner. ”Turkey, and all other fishing nations including European countries, should immediately close the bluefin fishery until its management is based on science, fishing capacity is decreased to sustainable levels and marine reserves are established to protect all the species’ breeding grounds.”
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.
(04/14/2009) 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.
(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.
(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.