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Biodiversity: Crucial meeting for bluefin tuna conservation

Bluefin tuna swarming in the Atlantic. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Environmental groups urge strict catch limits

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — This week’s meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna could be crucial for some species, as the group, gathering in Morocco, will decide on on  future bluefin tuna catch limits.

Bluefin tuna are already under extreme pressure from overfishing, and some countries — notably Spain — are pushing for higher, unsustainable catch limits. Conservation groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, are calling on the delegates to put a cap on bluefin tuna fishing to preserve and restore the species in the Atlantic Basin. Continue reading

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Black market, fraud decimating bluefin tuna population

A rampant black market and lax regulations are quickly leading to the demise of the eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Some European fisheries officials colluding with fishermen to circumvent regulations; Japanese black market takes a huge toll on the vanishing fish

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna population is being decimated by a $4 billion black market, rampant fraud and lack of oversight and enforcement, according to a new report from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

According to a report released today, Mediterranean fishermen have been violating quotas at will and have engaged in numerous illegal fishing practices, including misreporting catch size, hiring banned spotter planes, catching undersized fish, and trading fishing quotas.

Spawning stock of the eastern Atlantic bluefin has plummeted nearly 75 percent since 1974, The fish is the favored source of red tuna sushi and sashimi. Japan makes up three-quarters of the world market, but the fish is also served in restaurants from Paris to New York. Each year, thousands of tons of fish have been illegally caught and traded. At its peak — between 1998 and 2007 —  this black market included more than one out of every three bluefin caught, conservatively valued at $400 million per year. Continue reading

Bluefin tuna population takes big hit from Gulf oil spill

Bluefin tuna spawning took a hit from the Gulf oil disaster.

Satellite study shows key spawning area was inundated by oil during critical time of year

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Oil spewing from BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig may have reduced the humber of juvenile bluefin tuna by 20 percent in one of two critical spawning areas in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

Careful study of satellite images showing the extent of the spill compared against a habitat index showed that the oil spread into the key spawning area in the northeastern Gulf at the most critical time, when young tuna are feeding near the surface.  That means the presence of oil there is likely fatal for such tiny organisms, according to a press release from the ESA. Continue reading

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