States to decide fate of bigeye tuna
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.