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Why Defend Bluefins

…It is an Amazing Creature

For millions of years, the most incredible of all the world’s fishes has swum our oceans.  The bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) is the fastest fish in the sea, one of the largest fish in the ocean, and a marvel of creation – unique in that is a warm-blooded animal.. This allows them to inhabit areas of the ocean that are very cold.

Bluefin tuna (BFT) are one of the top predators of the seas – they eat just about anything and travel great distances, swimming up to 55 miles per hour, to find their prey. Through tagging programs they have been found feeding from the surface down to 3,000 feet. Very few people have ever seen them while diving or snorkeling, as they typically inhabit deep waters.

BFT live up to 30 years (!) and reach maturity at 8 years.

 

Fished Out of Existence

…It is Being Fished Out of Existence

Unfortunately, it is the favored fish of sushi restaurants worldwide, especially in Japan, and that is the reason that this magnificent creature is now on the fast track to biological extinction.

One fish sold for US$173,000 recently. With that kind of financial incentive, it is impossible to expect common sense to reign. Governments have proven to be incapable of putting a stop to this carnage due to the deep pockets of the fishing industry, and corruption is rampant.

 

It has been Abandoned by Protection Agencies

On March 18th, at the general assembly of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), governments rejected trade bans for bluefin tuna.

The decision occurred after Japan, Canada, and many poor nations opposed the measure.

Stocks of bluefin tuna have fallen by at least 85% since the industrial fishing era began. Bluefin quotas are set at a ludicrously high 13,500 tons by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), but realistically over 60,000 tons are killed every year. The scientific community believes bluefin tuna is at a high risk of
fisheries and stock collapse in the Mediterranean Sea in less than 5 years. The quota is too high, it is not enforced, and there is insufficient political willpower to act – the same old story.

ICCAT is the governing body that sets limits on the amount and location of tuna to be caught. This commission is as effective in regulating the killing of tuna as the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) was in overseeing the overfishing of Cod off the Newfoundland coast.

You may recall that Sea Shepherd successfully chased a fleet of Cuban trawlers off the Grand Banks in 1994, for which Captain Paul Watson was arrested and put on trial for interfering with commercial fishing. Years later he was acquitted, but it was too late for the cod. The catches were down so low – 1% of historic levels – that the DFO had to declare the fishery closed, saying that they would re-open it in two years. Now here we are 15 years later and the cod population has still not recovered, and the fishery is still closed to commercial fishing.

 

State of Fisheries

Because of the State Of The World’s Fisheries

Why save the bluefin?  Because every commercial fishery in the world is presently in a state of collapse.  Captain Paul Watson, founder and president of Sea Shepherd, predicts that there will be no commercial fisheries operating in three to four decades from now.

 

Because Sea Shepherd Cares about Fish

We have a history of defending fish of all kinds. Besides being the leading voice for the conservation of fish species, we “walk the walk” taking our ships out on the high seas to defend these defenseless creatures. From driftnet campaigns, the tuna-dolphin fight, chasing drag trawlers, to dropping “net cutters” on the ocean floor, Sea Shepherd employs direct action to stop the overfishing of our oceans.

Read the history of Sea Shepherd Fish Defense Campaigns