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Tuna populations at risk
Date:6/19/2008

A historic meeting next week may decide the fate of tuna in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, one of the world's most important marine resources.

The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) has an opportunity at its annual meeting June 23 27 in Panama City, Panama, to reverse a trend of inaction, and take concrete steps to stop the decline of tuna stocks. Failure of the IATTC to compromise effectively in the past has blocked the consensus required for the adopt ion of binding resolutions.

A coalition of organizations representing the international conservation community and the tuna industry agrees that urgent action is needed. The coalition is calling upon the Commission to follow the advice of its scientific staff to adopt time and area closures to protect tuna, and implement a research program to investigate how to manage fish aggregating devices (FADs) to reduce the capture of non-target species.

Bigeye and yellowfin tuna populations are falling and the average size of captured fish is shrinking, a clear sign that those tuna are in dire need of conservation measures. At the same time, the size and efficiency of fishing fleets continue to increase. As fish become less abundant, their market value rises, and operators invest more in technology resulting in more pressure on the stocks. In the face of declining populations, some nations are demanding the right to increase the size of their fishing fleets.

"Despite a clear legal mandate and declining tuna stocks, three international meetings of the IATTC held over the past year have failed to produce measures to protect the very resource upon which not only the tuna industry, but the health of the Pacific marine ecosystem depends," said Scott Henderson, director of marine conservation at Conservation International.

"This is truly the 'tragedy of the commons' in action," observed Meghan Jeans, Pacific fish conservation manager for U.S.-based Ocean Conse
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Contact: Susan Bruce
Sbruce@conservation.org
703-341-2471
Conservation International
Source:Eurekalert

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