Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sushi aiding bigeye tuna stock fall

Worldwide stocks of bigeye tuna, a prime source for Japanese restaurants serving sushi and sashimi around the world, are on the verge of collapse from overfishing, a report released yesterday said.

The wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, which is part-run by the conservation group WWF, said a collapse would have a profound effect on fishing fleets as well as on processing and trading industries in Japan and Taiwan.

Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Maldives, which provide processing centres for large vessels and also have fleets of small fishing boats, could also be affected.

"Science demands a sharp reduction in the catch of the bigeye tuna, but over the past decade this advice has been ignored," said Simon Cripps, director of the WWF's International Marine Programme.

He called on member countries of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to agree on a 14 per cent cut "before it is too late", ahead of their meeting in Guam next month.

Organisations that regulate fishing on the high sea have been generally slow to respond to scientists' advice and have failed to address the problem of overfishing of the bigeye, the study said.

Three days ago campaigners said stocks of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna, another staple of Japanese cuisine, were facing exhaustion because of overfishing.

Greenpeace and the WWF said a collapse of the bluefin seemed certain after the international supervisory body for the fish, ICCAT, failed to agree on cutting quotas at a meeting in Turkey last week.

A decline in bluefin stocks has increased demand for the bigeye which is also excessively fished in the Indian and Atlantic oceans and the Western and Central Pacific, the report added.

Source: Reuters

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