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Tuna Exports Boom As Fears Grow For Fish’s Survival


FILED IN: The Biofiles

The Mediterranean island of Malta doubled its exports of frozen bluefin tuna to Japan last year - despite warnings from scientists that the species is under threat of being wiped out.
Specialist fisheries information service WorldFish Report has revealed that Maltese exports climbed from 1 942 tonnes in 2007 to 4 098 tonnes – meeting nearly a third (30%) of Japan’s frozen bluefin import needs on sales totalling US$139.7m (€105.87m /£95.2m). Nor was there any let-up in exports of the prized fish from other EU countries, among them Spain, Greece, Italy and France.

The trade is being driven by continuing demand for bluefin in Japan, where prices last year soared by 41% to more than $33 800 (€25 500 / £23 000) per tonne. This is despite mounting concern among scientists about the species’ survival, which has resulted in a European Union plan to impose a legally binding bluefin tuna recovery programme on all EU states. The revelations of booming sales add up to an “increasingly ugly discrepancy” between tuna exports and attempts to conserve endangered European stocks, comments WorldFish Report.

On top of this, questions are still being asked about 5 000 tonnes of bluefin tuna, worth €100 million, allegedly exported from Malta in 2007-2008, but not included in official statistics. With no indication of where the tuna came from, the implication is that the fish may have been caught illegally – i.e. over and above the limit of what is officially sanctioned by the EU and the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

The (Maltese) EU Fisheries Commissioner, Joe Borg, has rejected claims of any impropriety. But concerns continue to be raised amid reports that illegal tuna traders have been docking in Malta. The EU is acting to reduce its oversized bluefin fleet - France has said it will reduce the volume of its tuna catches by more than 20%, and will cut the number of its vessels from 36 to 28. The Italians, too, have scrapped their largest purse seiner vessels. However, with huge profits at stake there are now mounting fears that these actions will be too little to stop European operators, whether legal or illegal, from driving the bluefin tuna close to extinction.
- Source: World Fish Report


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  1. The EU MUST have a Tuna watch in the Med as I’m afraid that in Malta practically EVERYONE will turn a blind eye. For two reasons, 1 That we are almost all related in one way or another and 2, people will let any species like the Bluefin tuna become extinct for money. SO please I will voice my little protest and encourage the EU to impose large fines on countries that do not enforce the quota whether legal or illegal. I cannot digest the voracious appetite of the Japanese for fish.. or whale or any of the other beautiful creatures they kill to quell their palatte or bizarre therapeutic properties. May Buddha enlighten them and entice them to a diet of vegetarianism

    Comment by Jackie Laferla

  2. I am not sure that I follow the appeal to Buddha. Most of the distant water fishing nations are Buddhists. Many of the rites and practices that are followed to ensure a bountiful catch (including that of whales) are Buddhist.

    Comment by JB

  3. As long as you understood that a Tuna watch is indispensable in the Med, then you understood the objective of my comment.

    Buddhists consult various Buddhas for everything in their daily life. Not all distant water fishing nations are Buddhist and not all water fishing nations are distant.

    I appeal to the Buddha(who was originally vegetarian) that the whole world, Buddhist or not, will realize that animals both wild and farmed, should not suffer needlessly. May all humans evolve and choose vegetarian diets!

    Comment by jackie laferla

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