Huge Bluefin Tuna Black Market and Overfishing Identified

Bluefin Tuna

Recently, an investigation and then a comprehensive analysis of bluefin tuna have shown some bad news for this magnificent creature.

“New data seen by conservation organisations WWF and Greenpeace reveals that documentation for 2010 bluefin tuna catches in the Mediterranean Sea is as riddled with rule-flouting and inadequacies as ever before,” WWF reports. “Cases include catches totally escaping documentation, fishing vessels being misidentified and numerous violations in transferring catches to tuna fattening cages.”

This follows findings from an international investigation conducted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that there is an international black market for bluefin tuna in the East Atlantic worth about $4 billion. Of course, while a specific number had not been put on the value of this illegal, underground market, it has been pretty widely known for awhile that there is a big one.

“The findings confirm WWF’s repeated warnings over the last decade of broad lack of control in this fishery – with many cases of quota violation, widespread underreporting, use of banned spotter planes, catching of undersized fish, and even governmental misreporting coming to light.”

Until this underground market is addressed, international quotas to protect this endangered creature are sort of a joke. In regards to his fisheries practices between 1998 and 2007, French fishing captain Roger Del Ponte told ICIJ: “Everyone cheated. There were rules, but we didn’t follow them.”

“ICIJ’s investigations point to France’s fisheries authorities covering up the illegal activities for years and deliberately misreporting to the EU and ICCAT, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas,” WWF reports.

Looks like there’s a ton more to do than setting a good international quota to save bluefin tuna.

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Photo Credit: Bluefin Tuna by jillmotts via flickr (CC license)

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