NZ Government signs death warrant for southern bluefin tuna
Auckland, 25 March 2010 – The New Zealand Government today signed a death warrant for the southern bluefin tuna, by increasing the catch in the race for the last of the species, says Greenpeace.
The Ministry of Fisheries announced this afternoon that the quota for southern blue fin tuna will be increased by 112 tonnes from tomorrow. (1)
Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas said it was obscene the Minister of Fisheries had increased the catch of a critically endangered species.
“Southern bluefin stocks are down to 4.6 per cent and now New Zealand has just upped its quota by 27 per cent. We are talking about a species that’s in as much strife as Maui’s dolphins and the kakapo.”
Worldwide bluefin catches have been reduced in response to declining numbers.
“The government is trying to hide behind the fact that the rest of the world has cut catches by 20 per cent. In other words, it’s saying other countries can do the hard yards on saving this species, meanwhile it will milk it for all it’s worth.
“Our clean and green reputation is taking another battering. We’re trading as being 100 per cent pure. Soon our bluefin tuna will be 100 per cent gone.
“This is a double blow for critically endangered bluefin tunas following last week’s decision by New Zealand to vote against a proposed measures to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). (2)”
Notes to editor:
(2) CITES delegates were forced to an early vote on the proposals to list the Species on Appendix I, when Libya tabled a motion to close the debate early. The majority of parties agreed to this which meant the proposals were voted on immediately. Both the European Proposal for Appendix I with amendments and Monaco’s original proposal for straight Appendix I listing were voted down. The vote followed several days of aggressive lobbying from the Japanese, who import close to 80% of the Atlantic Bluefin catch for use as sushi and sashimi.
(3) Around half the NZ quota for southern bluefin tuna is caught by Japanese vessels on charter to New Zealand fishing companies. Every one of these vessels set lines 100km long (long enough stretch from Auckland to Hamilton) with around 3,000 hooks. The remainder is caught by NZ vessels. Bluefin tuna are caught by longline fishing, with very high levels of bycatch. Seven times more sharks than bluefin tuna are caught, including porbeagle sharks which were this week listed for protection by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Many of the sharks caught as bycatch are finned, as shark finning has not been in New Zealand waters as it has in many other countries.