bluefin

The World Wildlife Fund is sounding the alarm for the mighty Bluefin tuna. According to the organization, the longevity of the species hinges on cutting Bluefin tuna fishing limits in half.

The popular tuna variety is highly prized, with a 507-pound Bluefin fetching more than $140 per-pound at auction earlier this year. Heavily fished by Japan, Mexico, the United States and South Korea, WWF is urging the two Regional Fisheries Management Organisations covering the Pacific to make drastic cut backs on Bluefin tuna fishing.

“Management measures in the Eastern Pacific and Western and Central Pacific are totally insufficient to preserve the Pacific Bluefin tuna stock. Only a 50% reduction of catches and stringent measures to protect juveniles can ensure a long-term sustainability of this fishery,” said Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator for WWF’s Smart Fishing Initiative in a statement.

According to WWF, the first quotas for tuna catches were set back in 2012 by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), and in 2013 the commission said catches should be less than than 5000 metric tons.

Now, WWF says the IATTC and its members are facing some stark statistics: Bluefin breeding stocks have declined by more than 96 percent. “Also concerning is the fact that about 90% of the fished species are young fish that have not yet reproduced,” WWF states on its website. “Delegates to [the IATTC] need to agree to a catch limit of 2750 metric tons to be consistent with the ISC’s recommendation of a 50% reduction of catches“, said Guerrero.

The WWF says that if the fishing practices are not properly controlled, overfishing of Bluefin tuna can happen quickly and to a devastating result. “WWF is calling on IATTC for an urgent reduction plan to meet the purse seine fishery capacity levels set out in its 2005 Plan for Management of Regional Capacity, given that current recorded capacity levels exceed these limits by more than a third,” the group stated. “We are hoping that the Pacific Ocean tuna fishers will see it is in their best interests to address this issue of too many boats chasing too few fish.”

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Image: Aziz T. Saltik