Careful me hearties, the Esperanza soon be sailin' in waters infested by tuna pirates. No these don't be swashbuckling fish. These be humans plundering the bluefin tuna - treasure of the Mediterranean!Pirate talk aside, the fate of Mediterranean bluefin tuna is a dire one. Over the past 20 years the population (biomass) of adult bluefin tuna has decreased by 80 percent. Today, catches exceed the legal quota by more than 12,000 tonnes (37 percent), including huge numbers of juvenile tuna caught every season before they reach breeding age.
Greenpeace report: "Where have all the tuna gone?"
Tuna ranching to blame
Most of the bluefin tuna caught are put into cages, where they
are fedsmaller fish. It takes up to 20 kilograms of feed to
produce onekilogram of tuna, and the waste feed and faeces pollute
the surroundingwaters. After some months in the cage, the fish are
harvested andprimarily exported to Japan.
Tuna "ranching", as this industry is called, is relatively new
to theMediterranean, but has expanded rapidly due to foreign
investment andgovernment subsidies. In fact, European Union
subsidies to thetuna industry have been as high as $34 million
over the lastdecade.
We now have a situation where the total capacity of the bluefin
tunaranches in the Mediterranean is 51,012 tonnes - 60 percent more
thanthe Total Allowable Catch set by the international
regulatorybody. This creates a market incentive for illegal
fishing, and aliteral race to catch dwindling stocks.
Today we are holding a press conference onboard the Esperanza
inBarcelona, Spain. Joining us at the press conference is an
expertfrom the World Wildlife Fund, whose soon to be released
studydocumenting the real blufin catch volume is expected to
confirm theseverity of widespread illegal tuna fishing.
Next, the Esperanza sails for the Balearic Islands - breading
groundsof the bluefin tuna. On this, the fourth leg of the
Defending OurOceans expedition, we will expose the tuna fishing
pirates, celebratethe huge amount of biodiversity still remaining
in the MediterraneanSea and push for solutions to the threats
Just as a network of marine reserves is needed world wide, a
network ofmarine reserves in critical areas like the bluefin tuna
breading groundis needed in the Mediterranean. These would help
ensure thelong-term stability of the bluefin tuna population, as
well asprotecting overall marine biodiversity.
For more information see the report released today: "Where has
all the tuna gone?" (Full
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