The latest scientific assessment paints a likely bleak future for the Pacific bluefin tuna, a sushi lovers’ favourite whose population has dropped by more than 97 percent from its historic levels. A draft summary of a report by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean seen by The Associated Press shows the current population of bluefin tuna is estimated at 2.6 percent of its “unfished” size. A previous assessment put the population at an already dire 4.2 percent. Overfishing has continued despite calls to reduce catches to allow the species to recover.
If those managers again fail to act in a conservation-minded way this time, it may be time for other actions, such as an international trade ban or complete fishing moratorium.
“The situation is really as bad as it appears,” said Amanda Nickson, director for Global Tuna Conservation at The Pew Charitable Trusts. In Europe, officials have agreed last month on implementing a recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. A next step by conservationists could include efforts to get Pacific bluefin tuna banned from international trading. An earlier estimate put the 2014 population of the bluefin at 26,000 tons. The most recent reduced that estimate by 9,000 tons, to 17,000 tons. Any lower, it may become economically unfeasible to fish them.