Food

More Than Half of Tuna Species Face Extinction, But Overfishing Is Too Profitable to Stop

The regulations are hard to enforce because of the logistical difficulties of monitoring fishing, and because of a lack of political will.

As we've written about previously, tuna's in trouble, and it's not just limited to one species and/or one geographical region. A new study conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and published in the prestigious journal Science found that 5 out of the 8 tuna species are at "risk of extinction".

The problem in good part lies with the commercial appeal of these species. There is little interest in stopping over-fishing because it's so profitable. And when there are regulations, they are hard to enforce because of the logistical difficulties of monitoring fishing, and because of a lack of political will. Basically, money talks.

IUCN experts warned that all three bluefin tuna species - southern, Atlantic and Pacific - were susceptible to collapse because of pressure from fishing for the high-value fish.

Southern bluefin tuna are already critically endangered, the highest category of risk, and Atlantic bluefin are endangered, the assessment for the IUCN red list of threatened species found.

Bigeye tuna are vulnerable to extinction, while yellowfin and albacore tuna are close to being under threat, or will be threatened with extinction if conservation measures are not put in place to turn their fortunes around. (source)

Dr Kent Carpenter, manager of IUCN's marine biodiversity unit: "If no changes are made to current fishing practices, the western Atlantic bluefin stocks are at risk of collapse as they are showing little sign that the population is rebuilding following a significant reduction in the 1970s."

Problem is, countries like Japan and Canada (shame!) are opposed to adding bluefin tuna to the UN list of protected fish, because of the impact it would have on fisheries. What they need to realize is that the impact will be worse, and permanent, if these fish go extinct.

Michael Graham Richard is editor of the Science & Technology and the Cars & Transportation categories for Treehugger and he's also the editor of Discovery Green.
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