States to de­cide fate of big­eye tuna

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS -

DOZENS of na­tions will con­vene this week to de­cide the fate of one of the planet’s most valu­able fish – the big­eye tuna which is back­bone of a bil­lion dol­lar busi­ness that is se­verely over­fished.

Sci­en­tists shocked many in the in­dus­try last month when they warned that un­less catch lev­els are sharply re­duced, stocks of the fatty, fast-swim­ming preda­tor could crash within a decade or two.

Less iconic than Atlantic bluefin but more valu­able as an in­dus­try, big­eye – one of sev­eral so-called trop­i­cal tuna species – is prized for sashimi in Ja­pan and canned for su­per­mar­ket sales world­wide. It is not farmed.

An in­ter­nal re­port by 40 sci­en­tists work­ing un­der the in­ter-gov­ern­men­tal In­ter­na­tional Com­mis­sion for the Con­ser­va­tion of Atlantic Tu­nas (ICCAT) showed in Oc- to­ber that pop­u­la­tions have fallen to less than 20 per cent of historic lev­els.

“This species is in the red,” said Daniel Gaert­ner, a spe­cial­ist in trop­i­cal tuna at France’s In­sti­tute for Re­search and De­vel­op­ment which helps track big­eye stocks.

States are due to de­cide at the sum­mit, which be­gins to­mor­row, whether to re­new big­eye quo­tas or re­vise them down­ward.

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