November 17, 2009

NHK Radio Japan Interview on ICCAT bluefin tuna

Radio program started from 14:00JST on Nov 16:

Q1: About how low have the Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks now fallen?

A1: Well, Bluefin Tuna are caught in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, but the decline of the Atlantic population has been particularly severe. ...
The so-called ranching of tuna from the late 1990’s, especially in the European Mediterranean, has been especially to blame. These tuna ranches take young wild tuna from the sea and fatten them up for periods of 6 months to about 2 years prior to shipment. Almost all are sent to Japan, where tuna’s fatty flesh called “toro” is popular.
Tuna fetches a high price here because it is so popular in sushi. It has become such an attractive foreign currency earner that other countries ... have also been leaping onto the bandwagon. The moves are boosting tuna production.

Q2: But what is so wrong with tuna ranching?

A2: The biggest problem is that there is no way to gauge how many young tuna are being caught and put into the ranches. ... Regardless of the volume of catch, Catching juveniles, rather than older ones, poses great impact on the species’ population. The present method of stock management would not help control tuna ranching.

Q3: And has ICCAT been doing anything about all of this so far?

A3: ... There have been no big fines for over-fishing, under-report of catches and so on ... There has been no effective international monitoring system. ... But reports show that the amount of tuna actually being distributed remains far higher than the declared volume of catch.

Q4: ... We have been talking with Professor Matsuda on the phone to hear his immediate reaction to those decisions.

A4: These decisions are still controvertial. Some countries and ecologists may not be satisfied. If the resolutions are not obeyed, recommendations to add tuna to the CITES Appendix I will likely be made at the Convention’s Conference of Parties next spring. As with whales, tuna fishing could be banned.
The one issue that we have to consider sincerely is the responsibility of the bluefin tuna consumer. ... Japanese consumption has been driving the expansion of these ranches and decline of bluefin tuna population. The price of bluefin tuna is still cheap, it should be much higher. Many Japanese people have continued eating the bluefin tuna frequently. The important thing for the future is to eat the fish much rarely, a few times a year. Japanese consumers can control the global tuna market.


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