The overfishing of tuna caused a flurry of stories this summer, from United States officials pointing fingers at Europe for surpassing annual International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) fishing quotas to Japan considering substitutes like deer and horse for the sushi staple.
But the European Commission recently banned the fishing of endangered bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean for the rest of the year. The ban affects Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Spain. Italy and France (deemed one of the main culprits by WWF) have already closed down tuna fisheries for 2007. One of the main causes of diminishing tuna stocks is the under-reporting of catches, according to the EU.
It’s not as though the United States doesn’t contribute to the low numbers. Carl Safina, president of the Blue Ocean Institute, and other tuna experts fess up to our faults, according to the New York Times. Safina is reportedly calling for an Atlantic-wide, five-year ban and the closing of bluefin spawning areas in the Gulf of Mexico.
In a step in the right direction, San Diego-based American Albacore Fishing Association became the world’s first sustainable tuna fishery this month. Certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, the fishery adheres to methods that avoid overfishing and the bycatch of seabirds, sea turtles and other fish. The WWF reports that consumers will be able to buy the MSC-certified tuna in stores nationwide later this year.