For a sustainable and traceable Mediterranean bluefin tuna - WWF and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation
As the purse seine (the main sector) fishing season for the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna opened last week, WWF and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation call on the bluefin tuna fishing industry to avoid repeating past mistakes that led the stock to the brink of collapse. Both organizations call fishermen and retailers – beyond strictly respecting current management measures - to engage in certification.
"Although the first signs of stock recovery that we have observed since 2013 are encouraging, we shouldn't forget that last year's decision to increase the fishing quota wasn't based on a full stock assessment. The new assessment will take place in 2016, and only then will we be able to give a recommendation based on more robust scientific results", said Dr. Gemma Quílez-Badia, Bluefin tuna project coordinator at WWF Mediterranean.
At the last ICCAT meeting in November 2014, fishing nations decided on a fishing quota increase of nearly 20% per year, from 13,500 tonnes in 2014 to 16,142 tonnes in 2015 and 19,296 tonnes in 2016. WWF and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation are concerned by such a rapid quota increase. Indeed, there are still many loopholes in the fishery traceability system, particularly concerning bluefin tuna fattening farms.
Can we eat Mediterranean bluefin tuna again? “Since 2009, restaurants in the Principality of Monaco, thanks to the efforts of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, have been committing to protect the bluefin tuna and became a model by stopping serving this species. We encourage them to continue this leadership by offering their consumers seafood fished from sustainable fisheries. Such seafood products are identified in the Mr Goodfish list for which we are coordinating the Mediterranean part. Regarding bluefin tuna, we would suggest to wait until it is certified, as certification is the only proof of its sustainability. The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation is working towards this goal together with WWF", added Dr. Philippe Mondielli, Scientific Director of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
The only objective way of knowing if a bluefin tuna comes from a sustainable and traceable fishery is through certification, such as MSC. WWF and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation hope that some fisheries could be ready to be certified in the near future and encourage fishers and retailers to engage in this process.
"The future of the bluefin tuna now lies in a new commitment from fishers, traders, retailers and consumers to ensure the complete recovery of the stock in the long term. WWF and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation encourage all bluefin tuna stakeholders to continue their efforts, and we recommend that chefs and consumers favour sustainable and traceable seafood", concluded Dr. Gemma Quílez-Badia.
photo : © M. San Felix