Captive Bluefin Tuna inside a transport cage.Greenpeace is calling on the countries of the Mediterranean to protect bluefin tuna with marine reserves in their breeding and feeding areas.
We've said "Time and Tuna are Running Out," in very large
letters on a very large banner, to the International Commission for
the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT), which is meeting in
Turkey this week to decide the fate of Northern bluefin tuna. They
can't miss the message -- the question is whether they'll act to
save bluefin tuna from commercial extinction.
Known as "Shepherds of the Seas" the bluefin tuna has been
celebrated for thousands of years, and is world famous as a symbol
of the Med. Bluefin weigh up to 700 kg, and can reach 3 metres in
length. The Greek philosopher Aristotle was fascinated by their
incredible migrations. The bluefin is one of the top predators of
the Med's food-chain, crucial to the Med's delicate ecosystem.
But they are in serious trouble. The Med bluefin tuna fishery is
worth some US$1bn - in Japan a single tuna can sell for US$ 15,000.
But there simply aren't enough bluefin to sustain the world's
insatiable appetite. In 1999, we recorded how Med bluefin stocks
had declined by 80 percent, and it's getting worse. Rampant
over-fishing and pirate fishing is pushing this precious species to
the brink of extinction.
We have the solution - marine reserves now
Luckily, we have the solution - a network of marine reserves;
areas closed to all extractive uses, such as fishing and mining, to
cover forty percent of the Med. This means closing the bluefin tuna
fishery - indefinitely, until stocks recover. It may sound extreme,
but without bold action the fishery has no future whatsoever.
Marine reserves will save the tuna, the Med's ecosystem, and
ultimately the fishing industry. After all, the fishing industry
has a pretty miserable future if there's no fish left to, well,
Come on ICCAT - live up to your name.
Conservation is a key word in ICCAT's title. Sadly, most of its
45 member states, including big fishing nations such as Japan,
France, Spain and Italy, are missing this crucial point.
Last year ICCAT came up with a "bluefin tuna recovery" plan so
pitiful it makes a mockery of the term "recovery." Instead of
listening to their own scientific committee, which set a catch
quota (how much fish you are allowed to take) of 15,000 tonnes.
ICCAT's "recovery plan" virtually doubled this, allowing a quota of
ICCAT countries can't even stick to limited rules
The member countries couldn't even stick to that extremely
limited agreement. The Med has one of the highest rates of illegal
fishing in the world; the bluefin fishery is completely out of
control. In September the European Commission declared the bluefin
fishery closed until the end of the year - because EU countries had
fished 20,000 tonnes of bluefin - 20 per cent over what they were
allowed for the whole year.
In the last two years, the Greenpeace ships the Rainbow Warrior
and the Esperanza have documented European, Asian, and North
African fleets illegally fishing in the Med. Just a few examples
include catching Italian fleets illegally using spotter planes to
search for bluefin, a day after the ICCAT regulation banning them
came into force. Just after this we found an illegal tuna shipment
being made to Spain. The French fished 53 per cent above their
quota in 2005, in other words every third fish was illegal. (For
more on these scandals, see our "Pirate Booty
The Med is truly a shared global treasure - and a global
The Med a global commons, and its protection is our collective
And what a shared treasure; rich seagrass meadows and rocky
reefs dominate its coastal zone while an awe-inspiring array of
seamounts, cold seeps and trenches are found on its seabed. Within
these some 10,000 species live, 9 percent of the world's marine
biodiversity - all this despite the Med representing less than 1
percent of the word's oceans.
But over-fishing and destructive fishing is steadily eroding
this treasure. A network of large scale marine reserves will
represent a shift in the balance of human impacts, from damage and
harm to protection and conservation.
You can help -- take action now by
signing our petition demanding protection for our world's
If we want fish tomorrow, we need marine reserves today. Show your support for declaring 40 per cent of our world's oceans as no take marine reserves.
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