Bluefin Tuna Under Threat from Short-Sighted EU Policy

It seems as though the Government-Industrial complex has overcome sensibilities in a move by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), calling to maintain fishing levels of bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus 50% above scientists’ recommendations.

ICCAT members decided to permit a take of 22,000 tonnes per year (Total Allowable Catch), despite ICCAT scientists setting a quota of 15,000 tonnes (TAC). The members voted on the higher quota despite warnings by scientists that fisheries would collapse if their advice was not heeded. The ICCAT members’ target does not even take into consideration the additional 30% of take that illegal fishing contributes.

Some European countries have independently expressed concern over bluefin stocks. Spain, which consume the most tuna of any European country, called for a suspension of the fishery, whilst Italy have opted for a total moratorium.

It is thought that conservation groups may now engage the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), in order to enforce trade control over the bluefin tuna trade.

Europeans, particularly the British, have a tendency to favour very few fish species over the relative diversity of fish available on the market. There are many decent alternatives to popular choices such as Atlantic cod and bigeye tuna (stocks of both are perilously depleted), its simply a matter of educating the public, and where possible your colleagues.

The Marine Conservation Society
has provided a comprehensive sustainable fish guide, and a pocket-sized version is available from their fish online website.