For Immediate Release, November 8, 2012
Contact: Catherine Kilduff, (415) 644-8580
Catch Limit Sought to Protect Overfished Bluefin Tuna From Extinction
International Tuna Meeting to Decide Bluefin's Fate
SAN FRANCISCO— As nations gather next week in Morocco to decide future bluefin tuna catch limits, the Center for Biological Diversity today called on the delegates to cap catch limits for these tuna, which are threatened by overfishing. The Center, which launched a nationwide boycott of bluefin tuna after the last international meeting in 2010, sought protections for bluefin tuna under the Endangered Species Act after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in crucial spawning grounds. In response, the U.S. government listed Atlantic bluefin tuna as a “species of concern” — a watchlist that gives the fish no new protections.
“The fate of bluefin tuna depends on an international negotiation decided almost entirely by fishermen,” said Catherine Kilduff, a Center attorney. “For the sake of not repeating the mistakes of a long history of mismanagement, we urge votes that will cap bluefin tuna fishing at current levels.”
Weeks before the meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the Spanish government pressed the European Union to request higher bluefin tuna catch limits, despite scientific advice not to increase catch above 2010 levels. Although the Commission is responsible for tunas other than bluefin, the economic potential of bluefin, paired with the high-value tuna’s alarming history of being fished to excess, makes it a priority for next week’s meeting. A single can of bluefin tuna can sell for $50.
“While the new population estimates show improvement for bluefin in the Mediterranean, that improvement isn’t big enough to ensure this tuna can weather the storm of overfishing, pollution and climate change. Sure, any recovery is better than none for these precious fish, but the lure of the dollar has started the international feeding frenzy back up,” said Kilduff.
Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) are capable of swimming more than 55 mph; they 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). Bluefin tuna are threatened by overfishing, capture for tuna ranches, and changing ocean and climate conditions.
More than 40,000 people have joined the Center’s bluefin boycott 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. For more information about the Center’s campaign to save the Atlantic bluefin tuna, visit www.bluefinboycott.org.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.