Sunday, 6 September 2009

Save bluefin tuna

The bluefin tuna is a magificent fish - huge, fast, beautiful, even able to generate its own body heat, not something fish can usually do.

Photo by adalau, CC-licensed

It's also very tasty and very sought after - and about to go extinct due to overfishing. According to marine scientists and conservation organisations [1], bluefin tuna stocks have collapsed. Without careful management of the remaining stocks, the fish will soon be gone entirely.

Unfortunately, the "International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas", supposedly in charge of protecting the fish, has been setting quotas far above safe levels. [2] For example, in November 2009, they were advised by their own scientists that the quota should not exceed 15 000 tonnes - so they set it to 22 000. Add to that the huge illegal catch made possible by lax enforcement, and the actual amount of fish extracted from the sea ends up as 50 000 to 60 000 tonnes. [3]

ICCAT's ineffectual quotas are not enough to save the fish. Hence, the European Commission is mulling a proposal made by Monaco to add bluefin tuna to Appendix I of CITES, which would temporarily ban all international trade in it. This would allow the stocks to recover, especially because it would also curb illegal fishing. Illegally caught tuna can be easily passed off as its legal counterpart right now, but this would no longer work with the ban in place.[4]

However, a number of other countries, especially Malta, who has large tuna fisheries, are trying to stop this ban. And the fisheries commissioner, Joe Borg, says that he wishes to wait for an update from ICCAT before doing anything - by which point the deadline for CITES applications will have (conveniently?) passed. [5]

In short, this is a great big mess of European bureaucracy and horse-trading - but according to the Independent, the vote will be sometime next week. And if it goes the wrong way, it may well doom bluefin tuna.

And you don't need to be a, er, fish-hugger to want to save bluefin - if nothing else, it is a very tasty fish, and its extinction will impoverish our dinner table.

Hence, I would like to appeal to you to quickly write to some of the main players in this thing and ask them to ensure that the ban does go through. To this end, I have collected addresses and some prepared letters. However, if possible, amend or reword the letters in your own words.

An announcement is expected on Wednesday 9 September [6], so you will have to hurry.

So what can you do?

Write to:Write something like this:

Dear NAME,

It has come to my attention that the European Commission is considering an application to add bluefin tuna to Appendix I of CITES, which would declare it an endangered species and outlaw international trade in it.

Bluefin tuna is a popular food fish that has been brought to the brink of extinction by years of overfishing. It is my belief that the current measures to protect it are grossly inadequate, with ICCAT regularly setting quotas far above scientific recommendations. This is compounded by illegal fishing.

Of course, a ban on its trade may cause disruption to European fisheries, but so will its extinction!

I would ask you to do whatever is in your power to ensure that bluefin tuna is added to the list of endangered species. We no longer have the luxury to wait and see.

I look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.

Yours Sincerely,

your name here

[1] Bluefin Tuna in Atlantic Nearing Extinction, Conservation Group Says, National Geographic
[2] Managed to death, The Economist
[3] The Sushi Wars: Can the Bluefin Tuna Be Saved? Time
[4] Showdown looms for tuna in Brussels, WWF
[5] Political infighting threatens survival of the bluefin tuna, The Independent
[6] EU mulls ban on tuna as stocks near collapse,

No comments:

Post a Comment