Scientists Say Ban Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Trade–and Sushi Chefs Shudder

By Aline Reynolds | October 30, 2009 10:07 am

bluefin-tunaAtlantic bluefin tuna populations have declined so drastically that trade in the fish should be completely outlawed, says a new report. The population of the Atlantic tuna, a sushi staple, is now about 15 percent of the original stock size, says International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas’ (ICCAT). The report has delighted conservation groups, who have criticized ICCAT’s regulation policies. The report was triggered by Monaco’s recent proposal to ban international trade in the Atlantic bluefin under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) – a proposal that has gathered support from several other European countries [BBC News].

ICCAT has a history of setting quotas higher for the fish than scientists say is safe, while CITES seems to take a more proactive approach.Atlantic bluefin tuna are mainly caught from countries around the Mediterranean Sea, but most of the meat is consumed in Asia, particularly Japan. Japan has previously argued that commercial fish species should be controlled by bodies like ICCAT rather than CITES [BBC News]. In Japan, the fish are so highly prized that a single giant tuna can sell for more than $100,000 at the wholesale fish market. ICCAT will meet in 10 days to discuss the report.

Related Content:
80beats: Human Appetite for Sharks Pushes Many Toward Extinction
80beats: Are Fish Farms the Answer to World Hunger or a Blight on the Oceans?
80beats: Documentary on Endangered Bluefin Tuna Reels in Sushi Joints & Celebrities

Image: Wikimedia Commons

  • Corporate Statesmen

    A ban on just Bluefin is a good but inadequate step.

    The problem is that the rest of the fishery is still being pillaged and illegal fishing will not stop.

    The better alternative is ROLLING BAN.

    ROLLING BAN divides the world’s fisheries in a small set and in turn for each one, completely bans all fishing.

    This allows the entire ecosystem to rejuvenate – from the smallest to the largest. The entire food chain is given a change to recover.

    An example would be to bal all fishing in the North Atlantic for three years, followed by three years in the South Atlantic, then the North Pacific for three years, etc.

    The alternative is barren seas and for this reason Rolling Ban will be implemented sooner or later.

    This link offers a slightly better description ->

  • Andrew

    would that response not result in extreme over-fishing of the unoccupied seas?
    i’m not trying to shoot it down, I do think that it’s a good idea (though this is the first time i’ve heard it) and i’m not a scientist, I just read this site a lot. But it was a serious question.

  • Melissa

    Why don’t we all just accept that the current demand for seafood is wreaking havoc on ecosystems and start actually doing something about it? The current system is not sustainable. Not to mention we are just generally screwing things up by pollution, melting glaciers, overacidification in addition to decimating populations.
    And yet people still eat seafood cause, well, it tastes good to you?

  • Corporate Statesmen

    Hi Andrew,

    The theory is that quotas would remain the same for the other areas during the initial ban cycle.

    Quotas could possibly be raised after the first ban cycle or later if the fisheries returned to their former abundance.

    The world would have to cooperate on strictly enforced worldwide quotas because illegal fishing is currrently a very large problem.

    Glad you liked it !

  • Paul

    I do dread the day when many things we eat are highly endangered and therefore limited and set with quotas; but I will definitely support any measures to severely limit or ban commercial trades in certain highly endangered species like the blue-fin tuna. Currently, two main delicacies are off my dining table: sharkfin and blue-fin tuna.


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