Here's another post from Willie, one of our oceans campaigners in the UK:
Now is not a good time to be an Atlantic bluefin tuna.
I mean it’s bad enough that rampant overfishing has already decimated the species, to a mere sliver of its former abundance. And it’s even worse that the international community couldn’t be bothered to ban the international trade that drives the overfishing. The brink of extinction is never a good place to be. The obvious solution for species like tuna the way out of that is to produce lots of healthy baby tuna, that then grow up to be healthy adult tuna, and so on.
So, in the natural bluefin cycle the tuna are gathering together right now to do just that. It is spring, after all. On both sides of the Atlantic they are congregating to spawn in warm waters. For a species so depleted, successful breeding is very important. The bluefin larvae don’t have an easy time of it either, it takes a long time before they grow big enough to stop being a tasty mouthful for other fish, so even with a healthy population very few of the young would make it to adulthood.
So, with a depleted population, and an already slim chance of making it to adulthood and spawning themselves, the bluefin could do without any more problems. Think then what is happening right now where the bluefin are spawning in the Gulf of Mexico.
And on this side of the Atlantic, in the Mediterranean, the odds aren’t much better, even without a catastrophic oil-spill. The bluefin’s days are numbered. In just a couple of days the month long bluefin purse-seining season opens. It only lasts a month, a restriction that has come into place in the past few years because there are simply too many fishing boats chasing too few fish. But it happens to be the very time the fish spawn. The bluefin’s convenient congregation to procreate makes them easy targets for the massive nets of purse-seiners. And whilst it’s blatant common sense for most people that protecting breeding grounds of a species you want to keep alive is a good idea, these are often the very areas our high-tech modern fishing fleets target, to get maximum buck for their bang.
It’s madness. And it can’t go on. That’s why on Wednesday in France Greenpeace activists took action to stop the bluefin fishing boats leaving port. Governments and fisheries managers have clearly failed bluefin. The purse seiners should stay in port, rather than making their way to ambush the last remaining bluefin. And more than just stopping the fishery to allow the species to recover, we also need to actively protect areas crucial for breeding. This year is proving to be a crucial one for bluefin, maybe, just maybe, the disastrous state of the fish stocks, and the harrowing images from the Gulf of Mexico will force some action.
Join the call for a network of marine reserves that will protect 40% of the world's oceans.
Read more about the French action (in French).
Check out Willie's blog on tuna from last week.