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Podcast: Two tunas and a tale of managed extinction

  • On this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we take a look at the tales of two tuna: yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean, and bluefin tuna in the Atlantic.
  • Mongabay staff writer Malavika Vyawahare tells us about the series of articles she wrote looking at how EU-controlled fleets dominate the annual yellowfin tuna haul in the Indian Ocean, and how that impacts developing island nations like Seychelles.
  • We also speak with author Jen Telesca about her recent book Red Gold: The Managed Extinction of Giant Bluefin Tuna, which details how, under the watch of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the Atlantic bluefin tuna has become such a prized catch that it’s being driven to extinction.

Today we discuss the tales of two tuna: yellowfin in the Indian Ocean, and bluefin in the Atlantic. These are two tales of overfishing and population collapse that help us understand some of the most pressing issues in international fisheries management today.

Listen here:

Our first guest is Mongabay staff writer Malavika Vyawahare, who recently wrote a two-part series of articles looking at the impacts of European tuna fishing on the economy and marine environment of Seychelles, an archipelagic nation in the Indian Ocean. She tells us about the EU-controlled ships that dominate the annual yellowfin tuna haul in the Indian Ocean, why a plan to save the collapsing stock of yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean has failed, and how the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, the intergovernmental agency that manages tuna fisheries in the region, has become a sort of battleground between EU member countries and smaller developing island nations like Seychelles.

We also welcome to the program Jen Telesca, an assistant professor of environmental justice at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and author of the recent book Red Gold: The Managed Extinction of the Giant Bluefin Tuna. Telesca discusses the history of the bluefin tuna trade, how the Atlantic bluefin became an endangered species, and how the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, or ICCAT, an intergovernmental organization responsible for the management and conservation of tuna in the Atlantic Ocean, has presided over what Telesca calls “the managed extinction” of the Atlantic bluefin tuna.

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The Western Atlantic bluefin tuna population is severely depleted. Photo Credit: Richard Herrmann/Pew.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

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