Quantcast

Eastern Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Threatened

Center for Biological Diversity

An analysis of eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna trade data released Oct. 18 shows that harvests of the imperiled tuna are more than double the legal amount. This calls into question the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) June decision, responding to a Center for Biological Diversity petition, that found bluefin were not endangered as long as there is a high degree of compliance with total allowable catch levels.

“Illegal fishing is rapidly pushing eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna to the brink of extinction. Rather than turn a blind eye to this ongoing crisis, the fisheries service needs to give this dwindling species the protection it needs to survive,” said Catherine Kilduff, a center staff attorney. “Endangered Species Act protections are necessary to stop U.S. imports from the Mediterranean and begin rebuilding this population, crucial to the health of the Atlantic Ocean and our fisheries.”

The Pew Environment Group report found that in 2010, the amount traded on the global market was 141 percent above allowable catch levels (32,564.9 metric tons). That doesn’t include black market bluefin missing from trade records. Discounting illegal fishing, the NMFS denial of listing for the bluefin determined that a 5 percent probability of extinction in 20 years is a reasonable threshold for endangered status. At catch levels of 30,000 metric tons, there is an 8.5 percent probability that less than 500 adult bluefin tuna will survive in 2030.

Highly migratory, warm-blooded fish, Atlantic bluefin tuna include two genetically distinct populations, one that spawns in the Mediterranean (the eastern Atlantic stock) and a much smaller population that spawns in the Gulf of Mexico (the western Atlantic stock). New analysis of the eastern Atlantic stock has implications for both stocks because of cross-Atlantic mixing. Capable of speeds higher than 55 mph, bluefin tuna from the Mediterranean traverse the ocean in a matter of weeks as early as age one. Overfishing means that fewer Mediterranean tuna reach U.S. waters.

“Skyrocketing consumer demand for bluefin tuna has driven overfishing and lax enforcement of international agreements,” said Kilduff. “After years of recognizing the problem, but not implementing a solution, the international community must ban trade until bluefin tuna populations rebuild.”

In August 2011 the center requested that the U.S. propose Atlantic bluefin tuna for protection under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the major international treaty on endangered species. CITES protection would ban cross-border trade in Atlantic bluefin, potentially improving compliance with catch limits. The next CITES meeting will occur in 2013.

In response to the decline of the bluefin, the center last year launched a nationwide boycott of bluefin tuna (visit bluefinboycott.org for more information). More than 25,000 people have joined the center’s campaign and pledged not to eat at restaurants serving bluefin tuna. Dozens of chefs and owners of seafood and sushi restaurants have pledged not to sell bluefin.

According to a McKinsey & Company report released last month, current bluefin harvesting levels are projected to drive the eastern Atlantic fishery to collapse between 2012 and 2015. If illegal and unreported fishing could be 100 percent eliminated, the fishery could recover by 2023. But impressively, if the fishery were to be completely closed, according to the report, it would recover within eight years.

For more information, click here.

—————

For more information about the center’s campaign to save the Atlantic bluefin tuna, click here.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Dan Nosowitz

It's no secret that the past few years have been disastrous for the American farming industry.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and coconut oil are fats that have risen in popularity alongside the ketogenic, or keto, diet.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Bijal Trivedi

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.

Read More Show Less
Rool Paap / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be good or bad depending on the situation.

Read More Show Less

By Joe Vukovich

Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Emily Moran

If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you've noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, "masting."

Read More Show Less

By Catherine Davidson

Tashi Yudon peeks out from behind a net curtain at the rooftops below and lets out a sigh, her breath frosting on the windowpane in front of her.

Some 700 kilometers away in the capital city Delhi, temperatures have yet to dip below 25 degrees Celsius, but in Spiti there is already an atmosphere of impatient expectation as winter settles over the valley.

Read More Show Less

The Dog Aging Project at the University of Washington is looking to recruit 10,000 dogs to study for the next 10 years to see if they can improve the life expectancy of man's best friend and their quality of life, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less