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Bluefin tuna quota fished out for 2010

10 June 2010
by greenpeace -- last modified 10 June 2010

Bluefin tuna is one step closer to extinction as the EU prepares to close this year’s Mediterranean bluefin season – which should not have been opened in the first place, said Greenpeace. The closure will become effective at the latest as of midnight on Wednesday, the European Commission said in a statement.


The Commission took the decision to intervene and close the purse seine fishery after France had failed to recall its fleet. European ‘purse seine’ fishermen, one of the most unsustainable fisheries that takes the largest chunk of catches (about 70%), have almost reached their quota for 2010, one week before the official end of the season – a step that has been taken before. But the tuna massacre is set to continue as European fishermen flying non-European flags of convenience continue to fish. Non-EU boats are estimated to be responsible for about 40% of the total bluefin tuna catch in the Mediterranean.

Greenpeace International oceans campaigner Oliver Knowles, onboard the Rainbow Warrior on an expedition to save tuna in the Mediterranean, said: "Bluefin tuna is on the brink of extinction and fishing should never have taken place this year – yet another example of how politics have failed our oceans and the Mediterranean. Scientists have shown that the only appropriate fishing quota for bluefin tuna is zero. These ships should not have been allowed to fish at all this season."    

While only a handful of French ships and one Greek ship are still out at sea, their capacity to catch is vast. Spanish ships are reportedly already heading back to port. The French fleet has reached over 85% of its quota. The EU bluefin fishing season this year began on 16 May and will continue until 15 June. Non-European ships flying flags from countries like Turkey and Libya are expected to still be fishing after the end of the EU fishing season.

Many of the fish caught this year are currently being transported to large fattening farms, where they will be fed before they are killed and sold on the lucrative Japanese market.

Every fish caught brings bluefin tuna one step closer to extinction. Greenpeace ships the Rainbow Warrior and the Arctic Sunrise confronted fishermen in the Mediterranean over the past few weeks. An activist had to be airlifted to hospital following a recent incident with French fishermen when he was stabbed through the leg with a grappling hook.

It is estimated that over 80 percent of the bluefin tuna have already been taken from the world’s waters and the species could disappear if fishing is not halted immediately.

Greenpeace has for years been campaigning for better fisheries management and for a global network of marine reserves to cover forty percent of the world’s oceans, including in the Mediterranean’s bluefin tuna spawning grounds

The Greenpeace European Unit is based in Brussels, where we monitor and analyse the work of the institutions of the European Union (EU), expose deficient EU policies and laws, and challenge decision-makers to implement progressive solutions.

Greenpeace European Unit