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Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery at risk of collapse.

The illegal overfishing of bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea has put this fishery at risk of imminent collapse, reports a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) study released in early July. According to the study, the top offenders are fleets from the European Union (mainly France), Libya, and Turkey. Not only are fishers exceeding quotas set by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the main body overseeing tuna stocks in the region, but they are intentionally underreporting their catches to avoid taxes and exploit rapidly declining fisheries, say WWF researchers.

Fishers hauled in an estimated 44,948 tons of bluefin in 2004, exceeding ICCAT's annual quota of 32,000 tons for East Atlantic and Mediterranean fisheries by 40 percent. The catch grew to 45,547 tons in 2005. Factors contributing to the overfishing include rapidly rising Asian demand for sushi and sashimi, expansion of the U.S. market for fresh tuna, and the rising use of tuna-spotting airplanes and other highly efficient industrial fishing methods, according to the report.

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"The European Commission risks bearing witness to the collapse of this centuries-old fishery," said Tom Grasso, director of Marine Conservation Policy at WWF. The organization demands an immediate closure of the fishery and is urging ICCAT to reduce tuna fishing to sustainable levels as well as to improve enforcement and reporting.
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Author:Herro, Alana
Publication:World Watch
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
Words:229
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