Bluefin tuna fishing season starts in the Mediterranean

With concern over bluefin tuna stocks growing among environmental groups, we round up the latest news at the start of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishing season.

A large tuna is caught by fishermen

A large tuna is caught by fishermen

Reuters report that a new WWF report says overfishing is set to wipe out bluefin tuna in three years.

The news agency says: “Overfishing will wipe out the breeding population of Atlantic bluefin tuna, one of the ocean’s largest and fastest predators, in three years unless catches are dramatically reduced, conservation group WWF said.

“As European fishing fleets prepare to begin the two-month Mediterranean fishing season, WWF said its analysis showed the bluefin tuna that spawn - those aged four years and older - will have disappeared by 2012 at current rates.”

Sergi Tudela, head of fisheries at WWF Mediterranean, said: “For years people have been asking when the collapse of this fishery will happen, and now we have the answer.”

AFP report that the season, which is usually two months long, will be cut short by 15 days, as happened last year when quota limits were reached two weeks before the scheduled end.

The AFP story states: “The Mediterranean tuna fishing season will be 15 days shorter this year with quotas and fleets also cut, EU sources said Wednesday: but environmentalists complained it was too little, too late.

“The bluefin fishing season begins officially on Thursday and will end on June 15, two weeks earlier than the scheduled 2008 season.

“At the same time the European Commission has reduced allowed quotas by 27 percent overall. It has also negotiated a cut in fishing capacity for the industrial fishing ‘purse seiners’ which use huge cylindrical nets to scoop up their catch.”

The Times says that the ‘king of sushi’ tuna is on the brink of dying out.

David Charter, Europe Correspondent, writes: “Bluefin has become such a soughtafter delicacy in the Far East that ever higher prices are being paid for one of the ocean’s swiftest predators - and the rich red meat that makes it so desirable.

“But the size of the individual fish caught each year has dropped and conservationists fear that even recent restrictions imposed by the European Union will not save enough adults to keep the bluefin stocks viable.”

Marine conservation organisation Oceana blame the EU for the state of Mediterranean bluefin tuna stocks.

They said: “The bluefin tuna fishing season begins today for the Mediterranean purse seiner fleet, under the auspices of management measures that supposedly guarantee control over the fleet, but in reality ignore scientific recommendations and authorise unsustainable catches.

“In addition, illegal catches abound and Oceana calls for the immediate closure of the fishery to halt the decline of the species.”


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