The bluefin tuna fishing season opened today in the Mediterranean with a grim warning that continuing the current catch rates means it will die out in as little as three years. The WWF issued the warning yesterday, saying that the latest analysis leaves them with no choice but to, “again urge the immediate closure of this fishery.”
The demise of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean and the East Atlantic s blamed on the introduction of fishing vessels in the 1990s that can round up 3,000 fish in one go. In addition, the size of the individual fish caught each year has dropped and conservationists fear that even recent restrictions imposed by the European Union will not save enough adults to keep the bluefin stocks viable.
Most of the catch is frozen for air-freighting to Japan, where it is a soughafter delicacy that continues to fetch higher and higher prices. Given this high demand , WWF has urged Japanese consumers to take the situation seriously and try to avoid consuming tunas from the Mediterranean and East Atlantic.
‘For years people have been asking when the collapse of this fishery will happen, and now we have the answer,’ said Sergi Tudela, Head of Fisheries at WWF Mediterranean, who is calling for a ban on bluefin fishing in the Mediterranean while stocks recover.
The WWF has proposed putting bluefin tuna on a list of species covered by an international agreement aimed at ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals does not threaten their survival.