Monday, April 20, 2009

TUNA COULD DISAPPEAR IN A FEW YEARS

Daily Mail - Tuna will be wiped out by 2012 unless overfishing is stopped, environmental groups have warned. If current quotas are maintained, the breeding population of Atlantic bluefin tuna will have disappeared in three years, it is claimed. The population can only be saved by a complete halt to fishing in May and June, when the fish swim to the Mediterranean to spawn, the World Wildlife Fund says.

World Wildlife Fund - The population of tunas that are capable of reproducing - fish aged 4 years or over and weighing more than 35kg - is being wiped out. In 2007 the proportion of breeding tuna was only a quarter of the levels of 50 years ago, with most of the decline happening in recent years.

Meanwhile, the size of mature tunas has more than halved since the 1990s. The average size of tuna caught off the coast of Libya, for example, has dropped from 124kg in 2001 to only 65kg last year. Data gathered by WWF show that this pattern has been observed across the entire Mediterranean.

Before the age of large-scale industrial fishing, individual tunas could even weigh in at 900kg. The loss of these giant tunas - able to produce many more offspring than medium-sized individuals - has a disproportionately high impact on the reproduction of the species.

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 market - have all contributed to this dramatic decline.

WWF is calling for the immediate closure of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery to give the species a chance to recover, while continuing to encourage consumers, retailers, restaurants and chefs to join the global movement to avoid the consumption of the imperilled fish.