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Overfishing threatens European bluefin tuna
Date:11/7/2008

Bluefin tuna disappeared from Danish waters in the 1960s. Now the species could become depleted throughout the northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean, according to analyses by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Aqua) and University of New Hampshire. The species is highly valued as sushi.

Bluefin tuna is a treasured delicatesse. A kilo of its much sought after meat can bring in prices reaching 130 Euros at fish auctions. The species in the Mediterranean Sea and northeast Atlantic is caught by fishermen from many countries, particularly France, Spain and Italy.

But there are fewer tuna left in the sea, and those that are left are younger and smaller. In 2006, the organisation that manages bluefin tuna fisheries (ICCAT; International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) launched a recovery plan whose main objective is to rebuild the population by 2022. Rebuilding would be achieved by gradually lowering fishing quotas between 2007-2010 and implementing other fishery regulations.

The management plan is however insufficient to stop the population from getting even smaller in the coming years. That is evident from analyses done by Brian MacKenzie (DTU Aqua) together with colleagues Henrik Mosegaard (DTU Aqua) and Andrew A. Rosenberg (University of New Hampshire, USA). Their results will be published later this year in an article in the scientific journal Conservation Letters.

"Our calculations show that the present recovery plan has little chance of reaching its goal and will not be able to protect the population in the northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean from declining even further. The population is presently at its lowest level ever, and the adult biomass has fallen 10 years in a row. Every year we set a new record low," explains Professor Brian MacKenzie, National Institute of Aquatic Resources at The Technical University of Denmark (DTU Aqua).

Large illegal fishery

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Contact: Kira Paulli Pravato
kpp@ruc.dk
454-674-3222
Census of Marine Life
Source:Eurekalert

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