Ancient Greeks used to stand on bluffs to watch for schools of tuna passing the shore. Today, fishing fleets stalk the fish across thousands of miles of ocean with helicopters, GPS and sonar. In 1950, about 600,000 tons of tuna were caught worldwide. Last year, that figure hit nearly 6 million tons, the prize of a chase that plays out from the Philippines to Canada’s Prince Edward Island.
For some species of tuna, the chase is becoming unsustainable. In September, the European Commission recommended that the E.U. support a temporary suspension of the global trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna, a majestic cousin of the yellowfin sold for tens of thousands of dollars a head for its coveted sashimi meat. At current fishing rates, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that Atlantic bluefin that spawn in the Mediterranean could disappear from those waters as early as 2012. But the recommended ban was shot down by E.U. member states including Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Spain, France and Italy – all countries with a stake in the trade. Scientists believe stocks of southern bluefin around Australia have likely fallen over 90% since the 1950s and could continue to drop. The World Wildlife fund estimate that there will not be any Atlantic bluefin tuna anymore by the end of 2012. Almost every single bluefin tuna, also known as the giant tuna, caught by commercial fishermen, is sold to Japan. Consumed as Sushi or Sashimi, and eaten raw. Japan consumes about 80% of all 60.000 tons bluefin tuna caught every year.
“This is a worldwide disaster and nobody cares” says Charles Clover, “the oceans are not an inexhaustible source. 90% of the big fish has already disappeared. At this fishing rate, oceans will be empty as early as 2048.” Turning the tide is only possible, when fishing fleets are globally imposed restraints, beginning with the industrial Japanese, European and American fleets. We need expansive marine sanctuaries in order to restore in peace biodiversity.
source: Time Magazine 5th of november 2009, 18:36