Posted by: ecodestination | July 20, 2009

Tuna bans and the fate of the bluefin

Picture by chickenofthesea.com

Picture by chickenofthesea.com

There is more good news, so I wanted to share:

In the last post, I discussed the international bluefin tuna trade ban proposed by Monaco, the UK,  and France—which is awesome.

I also mentioned how UK supermarket chains like Waitrose and Sainsbury’s have quit selling endangered seafood—yay!

More good news:

A resolution by member countries and organisations of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) banning fish aggregating devices (FADs) catches between 1 August and 30 September was signed by the Philippines. – FIS

So all the countries that fish commercially with purse-seine fishing boats in the western and central Pacific Ocean will have to abide by the ban. (Bluefin tuna live far out in international waters.)

This is looking good.

Longline fishing - picture by www.globalresponse.org

Longline fishing - picture by http://www.globalresponse.org

While some fishing fleets will remain legally able to fish tuna –

1) they will make their catches with the long-line (a commercial fishing technique) and hand-line fishing methods, which are environmentally sound in comparison; and

2) local fleets will probably have to venture farther than out into the open sea than usual. Then,

3) their operation costs would rise. And thus

4) tuna prices would rise. And hopefully,

5) consumption will consequently fall.

Let’s hope so.

Because the tuna industry is not too fazed by the ban given that it will not apply to long-lining, which will help “bridge the supply gap.”

You know, except the coastal communities that depend on fishing for a source of income. But they don’t count.

Tuna caught with the longline fishing method (from www.capfish.co.za)

Tuna caught with the longline fishing method (from http://www.capfish.co.za)

What about the international ban?

The countries that sign the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES—which will probably soon include the U.S.—will meet in March 2010, according to The Economist.

2010? Why not now, right? And even if these countries could meet and get their asses in gear now, it could be too late.

Yet even if the trade in bluefin tuna were to be halted completely, there would be no guarantee that the species would recover. Experience with other fisheries, such as the collapse of the cod population of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland in 1992, has shown that the dynamics of an ecosystem can change when a top predator is removed completely. Fifteen years later, the northern cod stock has not recovered. – The Economist

Woe.

Let’s hope for the best.

And stab anyone you see even thinking about eating tuna. With a spork.

To get some history on the bluefin tuna issue, I recommend this article in the Wall Street Journal written by Prince Albert of Monaco. (Monaco was the first, on June 5th, to call for an international ban.)

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