Tuna fish may be saved by study of "cod collapse" - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 02-20-2008, 08:16 AM
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salmo salmo is offline
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Tuna fish may be saved by study of "cod collapse"

Tuna fish may be saved by study of "cod collapse"

BOSTON, Mass. — Continued mismanagement could force some tuna populations to quickly go the way of cod, a highly threatened fishery that once helped shape economies of whole nations, leading scientists said in the symposium “Last Best Chance for Tuna: Learning from the Cod Collapse”¯ at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Boston on February 18.

A group of leading natural and social scientists analyzed the lessons learned from cod and recommended urgent actions to prevent further declines in tuna populations. Organized by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the University of British Columbia, the panel included author Mark Kurlansky, Andrew Rosenberg from the University of New Hampshire, Daniel Pauly and Rashid Sumaila of the University of British Columbia, Barbara Block from Stanford University, Rene Subido from RD Fishing Corporation, and Jose Ingles from WWF.

Just as cod was once perceived as Canada’s “Newfoundland currency,”¯ tuna is largely considered the “chicken of the sea”¯—cheap and plentiful. Where the landed value of cod in Atlantic Canada was at its peak of $1.4 billion in 1968, it dropped to just $10 million by 2004. Trends for some tuna species are cause for concern. In 2001, for example, landed value of yellowfin tuna in the Western Central Pacific Ocean was US$1.9 billion, but three years later it had dropped by more than 40 percent to US$1.1 billion.

Populations of certain tuna species are falling in both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, in some cases despite a host of management strategies, as with bluefin tuna in the western Atlantic. “Conventional fisheries wisdom did not work for the northwest Atlantic cod and is now failing for tuna in some cases,”¯ said WWF’s Katharine Newman, moderator for the panel. “We need to find solutions that advocate sustainable fishing starting right at the source like the Coral Triangle down to consumers’ plates through MSC certification and public awareness.”¯

Even after a decade of intense protection, cod populations have not rebounded as fisheries scientists predicted they would. “Does the fault lie in the fishermen, the regulators, or the scientists" Or is the answer to be found in history"”¯ asked Kurlansky. British Columbia’s Pauly proposed that the answer lay in history. “Although we know much about Atlantic cod and bluefin tuna, we have not learned a thing from their history and we may lose them because of that,”¯ he said.

Rosenberg showed what the cod case can teach tuna management by examining the cod case to illustrate how historic and current fishing pressure and the unique characteristics that made cod vulnerable to exploitation contribute to their continued state of depletion.

Innovative research to learn more about these apex predators is being implemented by scientists like Stanford’s Block who fits tuna with data-logging satellite tags or implanted archival tags. “It’s like tossing a computer inside a tuna and hoping that one day you'll see it again and the memory chip will be filled with tuna days,”¯ she said. Mapping key locations for bluefin tuna may help protect the species escape total population collapse. From the other side of the world, Jose Ingles of WWF-Philippines spoke about the start of an imminent decline in high value fisheries. Abundant fish aggregating devices are resulting in significant juvenile bycatch, a severe threat to species like bigeye and yellowfin tunas. “This hurts the economy and impacts the species,”¯ said Ingles. “If juvenile fish are allowed to mature, they would be worth more than $1.5 billion annually—significantly higher than the $236 million currently derived from juvenile catch.”¯

New joint management between juvenile and adult yellowfin and bigeye tuna catching nations could result in millions of dollars for local economies, resulting in win-win outcomes for fish and people, suggests economist University of British Columbia’s Sumaila, “This approach could have prevented the depletion of cod stocks off Newfoundland and such balancing can reduce the chance of a similar fate befalling tuna stocks of the Coral Triangle.”¯

Scientists hope that tuna populations might yet evade the catastrophic decline that devastated the cod fishery. “This panel discussion can only flag the very real danger that tuna populations face,”¯ said Sumaila “What we need is to use all the diverse lessons we have learned from cod and galvanize global action for the fast-disappearing tuna.”¯

Japan, where fish is an import part of the diet, eats more than half of the world's bluefin.
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Old 02-21-2008, 05:21 PM
Galong Galong is offline
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What are the chances of anyone or any government taking the initiative to tackle the over-fishing of tuna in international water... well, I'm sure it's on the furthest back burner if it's on the stove at all.

Japan apparently is not willing to do any sacrificing and tuna is, in my opinion, going to fish fished to near extinction. Sad, but no one is willing to 'do without' as the human species is way too greedy to sacrifice. [stepping off of soap box]
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Old 02-21-2008, 10:15 PM
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juro juro is offline
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I find a couple things worth debating in this thread.

Japan is in the pacific, and the vast majority of the tuna imported into Japan is from the Atlantic. Therefore I think I can safely assume that salmo meant half of the world's bluefin catch as opposed to half of the world's tuna.

Conversely, I'd wager that barely 1% of the Alaskan King Crab caught on the TV special "the most dangerous job" is eaten in Alaska. That's one crab leg out of 100 kept for local consumption as opposed to shipped for top dollar worldwide. Anyone want to take that bet?

Rarely can one party be implicated with an autonomous position on these matters that are tightly integrated with the global supply and demand forces that be. It's hard enough to figure out which side of the equation is at fault. Ask a DEA agent "How do you stop a drug problem - stop the supply, or stop the demand?" I already had this conversation on a plane while sitting next to a DEA agent on a cross-country flight. What's your guess?

Whatever. But what makes me want to puke is when TV starlets cry in kayaks over a loophole harvest of pilot whales in Japan yet there are 950 pilot whales killed per year, every year in the Danish Faroe Islands alone that these drama dolls don't know about as they pop another can of albacore tuna to maintain their figure - a fish that is listed as "critically endangered" and a well-known porpoise killer fishery.

BTW - Japan recently hosted the highly publicized five-day international meeting in Kobe and volunteered to cut their southern atlantic BFT quota in half for 5 years. Ironically the sportfishing of bluefins is at an all time high and growing rapidly in the Atlantic.

I definitely find the prevalence of global abuses on animal species atrocious however I also find the social sensationalism obnoxious. To the sensationalists I say "do some research before joining the pity brigade".


BTW - "stop the supply" is what he said. History proves you can't stop the demand.

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