One of the most popular sushi items, bluefin tuna, from which we get maguro, and toro, is almost gone. I have made a few posts about declining tuna stocks in Troubles for Tuna and Troubles for Tuna II, and am quite happy to be able to write that there may be some good news for toro lovers. In light of the recent severe decline in bluefin tuna stock, the United States is proposing to the ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) a three to five year ban on bluefin tuna fishing in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. Bill Hogarth, the US delegate and ICCAT chairman, has the backing of the US Senate, and as well as the World Wildlife Fund, which itself has been pushing for a ban. If the tuna is lucky, this support will push the ICCAT into action.
The European Commission has closed many fisheries this year when it was aware that quotas had been exceeded. While this is a commendable action, it is still too little, too late. In 2006, ICCAT scientists recommended that total catches of eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin stock should not exceed 15,000 tonnes, however the “recovery plan” for 2007 actually set the new quota at 29,500 metric tonnes, almost twice the recommended level by its own scientists. Sound like a recovery plan to you? Nor does it to me. The results from the vote on the 2008 plan will be in tomorrow, Sunday, and we can only hope that the pressure from the US will have some influence. There are many different proposals from many of the ICCAT’s 45 member nations, ranging from a reduction in quotas, to establishing a group of traders and farmers to better manage the existing stocks, but conservation efforts must start with a drastic reduction in quotas. However with poachers catching almost the same amount of tuna as the existing quota, it will take more than just management to keep the tuna from becoming commercially extinct. A few year moratorium may be drastic, but nevertheless, in the best interest of the tuna, the fishermen, and sushi lovers the world around.
The sushi guy.