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No Action Taken to Save Pacific Bluefin

BREAKING: No Action Taken to Save Pacific Bluefin

The highly depleted population of Pacific bluefin tuna will get no reprieve after a meeting in Sapporo, Japan concluded without agreement on any new conservation measures. Decimated by nearly a century of overfishing, the population has fallen 96 percent from unfished levels—and the numbers continue to drop.

At the meeting, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Northern Committee, comprised of the ten governments that are charged with sustainably managing Pacific bluefin, made no progress towards either the short term measures needed to help the population recovery, or towards long-term measures necessary to rebuild the species to healthy levels. Members couldn’t even agree to on a request to its scientists to evaluate the effects of stricter management on the future health of the population.

“Unfortunately, the only outcome of this week’s meeting is a guarantee that the Pacific bluefin tuna population will decline even further because of the continued inaction of ten governments responsible for the management of this species,” said Amanda Nickson, director of global tuna conservation for The Pew Charitable Trusts.

According to an analysis from scientists with Japan’s National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries:

• The size of the Pacific bluefin stock will continue to decline through 2018, even with full implementation of existing conservation measures

• Over the next decade, there is a 1 in 3 chance that the Pacific bluefin population will fall to its lowest level ever recorded.

You can read more about the state of Pacific bluefin here.

“It is disappointing that the Japanese government did not support a strong rebuilding plan for Pacific bluefin considering Japanese fishermen have the most to gain if the population rebuilds, and the most to lose if the population of this valuable species collapses. Since the member governments of the Northern Committee again failed to agree on needed protections, the international community may be forced to look at a global trade ban to help save this species.”

Atlantic bluefin were estimated to be at 15-20 percent of unfished levels when they were considered for a global trade ban in 2010. Currently, Pacific bluefin tuna are at just 4.6 percent of their historic high. The good news is that these are highly productive fish, spawning millions of eggs a year. If afforded additional protection soon, Pacific bluefin and the fisheries that depend upon them can recover relatively quickly.


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