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Advocacy group in Australia calls for global boycott of bluefin tuna

By Lucy Brake - 13 Dec 2010 13:22:6 GMT
Advocacy group in Australia calls for global boycott of bluefin tuna

The price of bluefin tuna has soared this year to over US$170,000 for just one fish. This has created a significant increase in illegal bluefin tuna fishing and as a result there are now grave concerns that the bluefin tuna population is close to extinction. After years of being overfished, the population of the western Atlantic species has reduced by over 80 percent.

Not only is poaching and overfishing a significant problem, but development activities are also impacting the species. The Centre for Biological Diversity refers to scientific reports that the BP oil spill last spring was responsible for killing as much as 20 percent of the juvenile bluefin tuna with impacts likely to continue for decades.

The Centre was concerned that the recent decision by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICATT) to maintain existing bluefin tuna quotas will push the species beyond the ability to recover.

Following the ICATT resolution, the Centre appealed to people around the world to sign a petition which pledges that they will not eat bluefin tuna or go to restaurants where the fish is being sold.

"By voting with their wallets, consumers are saving bluefin tuna by keeping it off their plates and steering clear of sushi restaurants with the rare fish on their menu," said Catherine Kilduff, staff attorney for the Centre.

The boycott has also been focused at chefs and owners of restaurants to make a decision not to serve bluefin tuna. The Centre says that five well-known restaurants in America that advertise bluefin on their menu have failed to stop serving it but one has simply changed the name of the dish. They recommend that consumers ask exactly what species the fish is they are being served.

The southern bluefin tuna is the focus of much attention in Australia as it is a highly valuable commercial fish but some scientists believe the population is also close to extinction.

The Australian government announced in November that increased protection would be given, however environmentalists are concerned this is too little, too late as the category of 'Conservation Dependant' will still allow commercial export of bluefin tuna.

The global migratory nature of bluefin tuna means that global action will be the only way to make sure the fishing of this species is managed effectively and to avoid extinction in the very near future.

Images copyright M.Brew