Bluefin tuna on edge of extinction, environmentalists warn


An international fisheries group set up to protect Atlantic tuna has done the opposite and driven one species of the fish, the bluefin, to the edge of extinction, environmentalists said Thursday.

On the eve of a meeting in Brazil of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICATT), environmentalists accused the group of ignoring the advice of its own scientists and setting fishing quotas for bluefin tuna that have drastically depleted stocks.

"ICATT has continually disregarded countless opportunities to do the right thing and secure the Atlantic bluefin tuna and guarantee the recovery of this species," Susan Lieberman, director of international policy at the Washington-based Pew Environment Group, told reporters.

Marine biologist Carl Safina, president of the Blue Ocean Institute, which studies how human behavior impacts the ocean, called ICATT "the poster child for not only failure which is demonstrable but cynicism and a real unwillingness to get serious, be professional and listen to what the science has to say.

"The world's first fisheries management agency formed out of concern for this one species, never followed their own science, never lived up to their mandate to manage for a sustainable yield," Safina said.

According to Lieberman, ICATT has for decades set quotas above what its own scientists have recommended for bluefin tuna.

Governments systematically exceed the ICATT-set quotas and allow their industrial fleets to over-fish the species.

Combined with illegal fishing, this has caused the population to decline by more than 85 percent in the eastern Atlantic and by more than 90 percent in the western Atlantic, she said.

"The blue fin tuna will not be with us and certainly will be extinct if governments don't do the right thing... and unless ICCAT says, 'Enough is enough, it's time for a zero quota; we're going to put the brakes on this fishery," Lieberman said.

A first "right thing" to do by bluefin tuna would be to include it on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list of animals and plants most threatened with extinction, the environmentalists said.

ICATT scientists met twice last month in Spain to discuss including the bluefin tuna on the CITES list, known as Appendix One. The fisheries management group, which was set up in the late 1960s, is due to begin a 10-day meeting in Recife, Brazil on Friday.

ICATT was set up to conserve "tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas," according to its website.

Forty-eight countries in every region of the world -- ranging from Algeria, Barbados, China and France, to Ivory Coast, Japan, the United States and Venezuela -- are contracting parties to ICATT.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam