WWF urges bluefin fishery closure

As European fishing fleets prepare for the Mediterranean tuna fishing season, the World Wildlife Fund has released a study showing that overfishing will wipe out the breeding population of bluefin tuna by 2012.
WWF said its analysis reveals the population of breeding tunas has been declining steeply for the past decade, and will be wiped out completely in three years if fisheries managers and decision-makers keep ignoring warnings from scientists that fishing must stop.
In 2007 the population of fish aged 4 or more years was only a quarter of the levels of 50 years ago, WWF said, with most of the decline happening in recent years. What's more, the average size of mature tunas has decreased by more than half since the 1990s.
Overcapacity of fishing fleets, catches that far exceed quotas, pirate fishing, the use of illegal spotting planes to chase the tunas, under-reporting of catches, fishing during the closed season, management measures disregarding scientific advice - and the insatiable appetite of the world's luxury seafood markets - have all contributed to the decline.
"For years people have been asking when the collapse of this fishery will happen, and now we have the answer," said Dr. Sergi Tudela, head of fisheries for WWF Mediterranean. "Mediterranean bluefin tuna is collapsing as we speak and yet the fishery will kick off again tomorrow for business as usual. It is absurd and inexcusable to open a fishing season when stocks of the target species are collapsing."
WWF is calling for the immediate closure of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery to give the species a chance to recover, while continuing to encourage consumers, retailers, restaurants and chefs to join the global movement to avoid the consumption of the imperiled fish.


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