The world’s five leading Regional Fisheries Management Organizations are meeting in Kobe, Japan, this week to discuss the problems facing the tuna industry. 300 officials from 77 countries and regions will take part.
Yesterday the WWF conservation group said that global stocks of tuna, especially of important commercial species such as bluefin tuna, have been severely depleted by illegal fishing and that governments need to take decisive action to save some critically endangered species.
‘Atlantic bluefin, used for high-end sushi and sashimi, is massively overfished and the spawning stock of Southern bluefin in the Indian Ocean is down about 90 percent,’ said the WWF statement.
Speaking at the opening of the Kobe meeting, Japanese Fisheries Agency Director General Toshiro Shirasu claimed that, ‘The tuna stocks have been overfished across the oceans, and we have to handle this problem with a global point of view’. It has to be added, however, that Japan itself consumes more than half the bluefin fish on the market.
The WWF described the Kobo meeting as an important first step, but added that regulators must set quotas based on scientific data and combat illegal fishing.
‘For the first time, there’s a general agreement by the governments that something significant has to be done,” said Alistair Graham, the WWF International High Seas Advisor. ‘One of the key decisions they have to make is to stop ignoring scientific data and to put in place catch limits.’