Atlantic bluefin tuna could disappear by 2012

By Jeremy Hance

A few weeks into the bluefin tuna fishing season and Turkey has decided to go it alone. Breaking international agreements, the Turkish government has announced that it will ignore agreed-upon bluefin tuna quotas. The news is not good for the survival of the critically-endangered fish species, since Turkey operates the largest Mediterranean fleet for bluefin tuna.

“Ignoring quota limits means that Turkey will simply bring an end to the bluefin tuna business even faster and once and for all, through the commercial extinction of the species,” said Banu Dokmecibasi, Greenpeace Mediterranean Oceans Campaigner, in Turkey.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) currently manages the bluefin tuna. The group has been heavily criticized for mismanaging the population and long-ignoring warnings from scientists. An independent performance review of ICCAT blasted the group in September 2008, calling it an “international disgrace”.

While scientists have been advising ICCAT since 2006 that the organization must lower the annual quota to under 15,000 tons, ICCAT has yet to heed the advice. In 2007, 61,100 tons of bluefin tuna were caught—twice the quota set by ICCAT and four times the size recommended by scientists. The quota for this season is 47 percent above scientists’ recommendations, although ICCAT has touted it as a recovery plan. However, Turkey’s announcement places this quota in jeopardy. …

Turkey ignores bluefin tuna quotas, further imperiling critically-endangered species

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