Saturday, 12 September 2009 9:09 AM

Greenpeace Calls on Governments to Support a Ban on Bluefin Tuna Trade

11 September 2009 - Greenpeace activists on board the Rainbow Warrior today demanded immediate action to protect the endangered Mediterranean bluefin tuna from commercial extinction by deploying buoys marked 'Crime Scene' around cages holding bluefin tuna being fattened up for harvesting and then sold for export.

Two swimmers entered the water around the cages carrying banners calling for a complete ban on the trade of this iconic species. The action (1) comes just days after the European Commission announced its support for a ban on trading North Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna, under rules governing the trade of endangered species (2).

"Bluefin tuna is an endangered species. Yet, bluefin tuna can still be caged, fattened for market and then killed for profit," said Banu Dokmecibasi, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Mediterranean. "Not only would it be unthinkable to treat a tiger or a mountain gorilla in such a way - it would also be illegal."

The bluefin tuna crisis is a devastating example of the global failure to sustainably manage the world's oceans and the urgent need for a global network of marine reserves to protect ocean life. Bluefin tuna has been brought to the brink of collapse by the repeated failure of the International Commission of the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to follow scientific advice, make sure bluefin quotas are complied with and regulate its fishing in the Mediterranean. Since 2006, scientists have been ringing the alarm bell on the dire state of the bluefin tuna stock. A so-called ICCAT recovery plan in 2008 still allowed quotas 47% above scientific advice (3). Bluefin tuna captured during the 2009 fishing season is currently kept in farms all around the Mediterranean, to be fattened, killed and traded as part of a largely uncontrolled industrial activity (4).

"Without urgent action the only place bluefin tuna will be seen is in historical documentaries about extinct species," said Sebastian Losada, oceans policy advisor for Greenpeace International. "As a first step, all governments must support the calls for protection and then move to close spawning grounds with a view to designating a network of Mediterranean marine reserves."

The Greenpeace ships Rainbow Warrior and Esperanza are currently sailing in the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean to highlight the urgent need for marine reserves now in order to preserve fish stocks in the future. Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of fully protected marine reserves, covering 40% of our oceans. They are essential to ensure clean and healthy oceans and protect marine life from overfishing and habitat destruction. Healthy oceans can also play a vital role in building resilience against the devastating effects of climate change.

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