EINNEWS, November 20—Will failure of the International Commission to protect the tuna be the death knell for Atlantic bluefin?

That’s the view of Greenpeace and other conservation groups after the commission charged with protecting Atlantic tuna (ICCAT) voted Friday to essentially leave the quota the same, despite the precipitous decline in blue stocks from overfishing.

ICCAT’s action lowered the 2011 quota to 12,900 metric tons from 13,500 in 2010. Recent revelations have pointed toward a brisk black market in illegal tuna fishing that goes well beyond the quotas.
Greenpeace and others have called for a moratorium to keep the bluefin from becoming extinct.

“The word ‘conservation’ should be removed from ICCAT’s name. Governments here have just agreed to a bluefin fishing plan that scientists conclude has a shocking one-third chance of failing to protect the species. Would you get in an airplane or car if you were told that it had a 30 percent chance of crashing?” said Greenpeace International oceans campaigner Oliver Knowles, adding that “this is a monumental failure of the way governments are supposed to protect our oceans.”

Since 1970 the Atlantic bluefin tuna populations have fallen by 80% due to industrial overfishing, pushing the species to be listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. In 2009, ICCAT researchers said a global ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna was justified given that the fish spawning biomass was 15% of its pre-industrial fishing stock. However, delegates defended this year’s quota.

An analysis last year by WWF predicted that the Atlantic bluefin tuna population in the Mediterranean will become functionally extinct by 2012 if the fishery isn’t closed. According to the report Mediterranean bluefin breeding population’s were cut in half between 2002 and 2007, while the size of breeding fish also fell by half over fifteen years.

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