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WWF calls upon gourmet to reject Blue-fin Tuna

25 february 2010
Demand for this fish grows each year, while the resources decline so much that by 2012 it could be extinct as a biological species

Blue-fin Tuna that inhabits the waters of the Atlantics and Mediterranean is currently facing the threat of extinction. Population number declines while the harvest on the contrary is on the increase in the latest years. While in 1950s only 600 thousand tons of different Tuna species were caught worldwide, the total harvest in 2008 reached 6 million tons. Also the IUU fishing increases. As a result Blue-fin Tuna, as it is estimated by WWF, could become completely extinct by 2012.

The flesh of Blue-fin Tuna is very much valued – it is used to prepare sashimi (traditional Japanese food of thinly sliced raw fish). Prices per ton, size-dependant, varies from USD 500 to USD 1000 for frozen and unprocessed fish. Usually the prices at the markets of Japan and Thailand are ten times higher than in Europe.

International Commission for Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) managed in 2009 to decrease the global catching quota for Blue-fin Tuna from 22 thousand metric tons to 13.5 metric tons starting from 2010 onwards; it was also decided to reduce the fishing season restricting it to 15 May – 15 June only. This proposal was also supported by the European Commission. Famous personalities such as Sting, Sharlize Theron, Sienna Miller and Elle Macpherson called upon the masters of cuisine to boycott whatever meals cooked with this Tuna species.

Monaco happened to be the first country to reject trade and sales of Blue-fin Tuna. In October 2009 Albert II Prince of Monaco suggested that the species is included to Annex 1 of the CITES Convention. Harvests of this species will be much reduced if there is no trade. It will be clear in March 2010 at the next Conference on the Trade of Endangered Species whether this proposal gets support. The ban was also supported by the UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and France, and the only country that is against so far is Japan. Arguments continue in the United States, and Russia so also did not give her opinion.

WWF Petition to reject the use of Blue-fin Tuna flesh has been signed by 16 thousand people from 149 countries of the world. These include restaurant owners, chief cooks, leaders of larger retail shops. One should not expect now to find Blue-fin Tuna in such shops as Auchan or Elior in France, Carrefour or Coop in Italy and Switzerland, ICA in Norway, Moshi Moshi in the UK and Memento in Spain, and neither could it be found in most of the restaurants in Monaco. Full list of companies that agreed with the total ban for the use/sails of the Blue-fin Tuna and thus supported conservation of this fish species could be found in the attached file.

'Blue - fin Tuna was one of the top fish in our menu, – says with obvious regret well-known Spanish chef Sergi Arola. – But the critical situation in which the species happens to be now determined my decision to stop cooking meals from Tuna. I believe that thanks to this decision now those who are fond of gourmet food in the long-term future will still have the chance to taste delicious flesh of this species”.

“WWF calls upon all the players at the Russian fish market to follow this example of many restaurants and retail chains in Europe and America, to take this responsibility for the society, and to stop entirely the trade of Blue-fin Tuna”, – suggests Konstantin Zgurovsky, the Head of WWF Russia Marine Programme.