- Title: FILE: Bluefin tuna proposals to be tabled at world conservation conference
- Date: 13th March 2010
- Summary: CROWDED FISH MARKET STALLHOLDER WRAPPING TUNA STEAKS STALLS DISPLAYING PACKS OF TUNA STEAKS, CUSTOMERS LOOKING AT PACKS CLOSEUP OF BLUEFIN TUNA FOR SALE IN SEALED PACKAGE
- Embargoed: 28th March 2010 13:00
- Topics: Environment / Natural World
- Reuters ID: LVA6FU246X2NX3AEU019YDFXDFN
- Story Text: New measures to conserve and manage sustainably bluefin tuna are among more than 40 proposals that will be decided in Doha as governments attend the next triennial world conference of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Government representatives from 175 nations will gather in Doha on Saturday (March 13) to discuss new conservation measures, including a proposal by Monaco for a complete ban on international commercial trade in bluefin tuna.
Last month, hundreds of bluefin tuna were caught by fishermen several nautical miles off Spain's southern coast. But the fishermen were actually environmentalists, working with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on a three-year mission to tag as many bluefin tuna as they can.
"We are trying to tag with electronic satellite so-called pop up tags, a few of these giant tunas which are right now entering the Mediterranean to spawn. The aim of this study is to try to understand the breeding and feeding behaviour of bluefin tuna, and its migratory behaviour as well before it's too late and the stock definitively collapses," said Dr. Sergi Tudela, Head of Fisheries at WWF's Mediterranean office.
The species can reach 3 metres in length and weigh more than 650 kg (1,430 lbs). It can swim at nearly 40 km per hour and dive to 1,000 metres deep. It is highly sought after as a delicacy: in January 2010, a single fish was reportedly sold for over USD 120,000.
Although it has been fished for centuries, its populations in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea have declined dramatically in the last 40 years. The WWF says the population of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean is collapsing and could disappear by 2012, if overfishing is not addressed.
"Only 25 percent of the breeding population that was present 15 years ago remains right now, and according to scientists the stock is in real risk of collapse unless extraordinary measures are adopted like a moratorium in the fisheries or a really low quota which is fully respected," Sergi said.
Tagging allows scientists to track the tuna's migratory and breeding behaviour.
At a predetermined time, the pop-up tag releases and floats to the surface from where the data it carries can be read by satellite. The WWF believes that by learning more about the endangered fish, they can provide facts and solutions to support its protection.
The WWF says the blue fin can only be saved by a complete halt to fishing in May and June, as the fish rush through the Straits of Gibraltar to spawn in the Mediterranean.
"The true overfishing problem is caused because there is an over-sized fishing fleet, there are an excess of fleet. So we are satisfied because we are seeing that at last ICCAT as well as the fishing authorities of all the countries and above all of the European Commission, they have raised the question and recognised that the true overfishing problem is of an oversized fleet," said fisherman Diego Crespo of the Almadraba Association.
CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers said the marine theme of the 2010 conference was particularly striking, with a strong push to achieve the target of restoring depleted fish stocks by 2015.
Monaco is proposing a complete ban on international commercial trade in bluefin tuna.
More than 40 proposals will be decided at the triennial world conference of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), including new measures to conserve and manage sustainably the bluefin tuna and other wildlife.
The UN General Assembly has declared 2010 the international year of biodiversity and the CITES Conference will be one of the key occasions governments will have this year to take action to protect biodiversity. The convention will run until March 25.
- Copyright Holder: FILE REUTERS (CAN SELL)
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None