The Pacific bluefin tuna, fished relentlessly for decades, is in trouble.>
A report issued this week by fisheries scientists on behalf of fishing nations, including the United States and Japan, shows that decades of uncontrolled overfishing have left stocks vulnerable, with conservationists warning that there is a real possibility of their collapse.
The fisheries scientists, working for an organization known as the International Scientific Committee to Study the Tuna and Tuna-Like Species of the North Pacific Ocean, spell out the crisis in unusually stark language.
The current biomass of the Pacific bluefin “is near historically low levels and experiencing high exploitation rates above all biological reference points commonly used by fisheries managers,” they write. “Based on projection results, extending the status quo (2007-2009) fishing levels is unlikely to improve stock status.”
Read the rest of the story: Pacific Tuna Stocks Have Plummeted, Scientists Warn.
A single bluefin tuna has sold in Japan for 155m yen ($1.7m), almost triple the record price set last year.
High bids traditionally mark the year’s first auction at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market.
Even the buyer, sushi chain owner Kiyoshi Kimura, who also paid out the record price last year, said the cost was “a bit high”.
The sale came amid continued warnings from environmentalists that tuna stocks are dwindling and overfished.
This year’s record-breaking fish was caught off north-eastern Japan and weighed in at 222kg (489lbs), some 47kg lighter than last year’s prize-winner, which fetched 56m yen.
Japan is known as the biggest consumer of tuna. Be it raw for sushi or sashimi or fried, broiled or canned, tuna is an important element of the food culture.
But concerns are growing because tuna is disappearing, and this is putting Japan in a difficult diplomatic position.
How much tuna does Japan consume annually, and how does the rest of the world feel? Following are basic questions and answers:
How many types of tuna are there?
Read the rest of the story: Does Japan’s affair with tuna mean loving it to extinction?.
A U.S.-backed proposal to ban the export of Atlantic bluefin tuna prized in sushi was rejected Thursday by a U.N. wildlife meeting, with scores of developing nations joining Japan in opposing a measure they feared would devastate fishing economies.
Monaco introduced the proposal at the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES. It argued that extreme measures for the iconic, migratory fish were necessary because the stocks have fallen by 75 percent due to widespread overfishing.
But as debate opened, it became clear that the proposal had little support. Only the United States, Norway and Kenya supported the proposal outright. The European Union asked that implementation be delayed until May 2011 to give authorities time to respond to concerns about overfishing.
Read the rest of the story: UN rejects export ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna
Japan opposes plans to list the Atlantic bluefin tuna, which is highly prized in sushi and sashimi, as a most-endangered species and to ban its international trade, an official said on Monday.
The UN-backed wildlife trade agency supports a call to stop cross-border trade in the fish when 175 member nations to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meet next month in Doha, Qatar.
Marine wildlife experts say that, despite fishing quotas, bluefin tuna stocks have plunged by 80 percent in recent decades in the Western Atlantic and Mediterranean, threatening the predator species with extinction.
Japan will not join in any agreement to ban international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna under the United Nations treaty on endangered species, the country’s top fisheries negotiator said.
The negotiator, Masanori Miyahara, said in a telephone interview this week that Japan “would have no choice but to take a reservation” — in effect, to ignore the ban and leave its market open to continued imports — if the bluefin tuna were granted most-endangered species status.
“It’s a pity,” he said, “but it’s a matter of principle.”
Read the rest of the story: NYTIMES and AFP