Bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean Sea and east Atlantic Ocean are nearing extinction because of unsustainable overfishing. In recent years, overfishing has been exacerbated in the Mediterranean, the largest fishery, for the Japanese sushi and sashimi market. Based on strong science, if overfishing continues, the Mediterranean population will collapse in just a few years.
The magnificent bluefin tuna can reach over 4 meters in length and 500 kg in weight, making one of the largest bony fish. It is found from the Gulf of Mexico to south of Iceland including the Mediterranean Sea. The bluefin tuna is late to mature, slow-growing, and long-lived (20 years), making them more vulnerable to fishing pressure than species that grow rapidly such as smaller tropical tuna species. The west Atlantic bluefin tuna is classified as a critically endangered species (IUCN 2008).
It is abundantly clear that overfishing is pushing our oceans towards an irreversible collapse of the Altantic bluefin and strong actions to save this incredible fish from vanishing are urgently needed.
With your help, ESI will push the following actions to save the Atlantic bluefin tuna:
The west Atlantic bluefin population must be listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Meanwhile, the United States should seek legal action against European fishing countries under the Pelly Amendment for undermining the efficacy of officially agreed-to fishing limits.
The management of international trade in bluefin tuna should be turned over to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which enacted the ban on ivory.
Innovative awareness campaigns are essential especially in Japan where sashimi market is the main driving force behind the bluefin tuna industry tragedy.
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Bluefin tuna at the brink of extinction © Endangered Species International
Unsuitable tuna fishing, Toyko Market © Avigdor Abelson