Overfishing Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

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1 Overfishing Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Brett Ducker FOR3202 April 9, 2016 A recently released report by the World Wildlife Fund found that more than 85% of the worlds fisheries are being illegally overfished by commercial fishermen. The Atlantic bluefin tuna is one of the species at the greatest risk. The Atlantic bluefin is the largest and most valuable variety of tuna on Earth. Some of the largest tuna are sold for over $1.75 million for a single fish. Due to the high price tag many anglers hide portions of their catch or illegally sell portions to other anglers if they have already met their limit. The Atlantic bluefin is currently endangered in the wild, but still hunted and overfished. According to theguardian.com the population of Atlantic bluefin tuna has dropped by more than 96% in the Northern Pacific Ocean over the past century. These alarming statistics illustrate exactly why a change must be made in this industry immediately or mankind will drive the Atlantic bluefin to extinction in just a matter of years. Overfishing can have a major impact in many fisheries and their surrounding ecosystem, but with the Atlantic bluefin tuna being at the top of the food chain it s extinction would be especially felt in the ecosystem. According to CBS news in 2013 nine out of every 10 Atlantic bluefin caught were too young to reproduce. This means that the ecosystem is not able to restock the tuna population before they are removed, so the population in the wild continues to decrease annually. According to research by the World Wildlife Fund with the removal of Atlantic bluefin tuna levels of smaller fish have skyrocketed and are throwing the ecosystem of of order. Species such as sardines and anchovies are now abundant in the Atlantic. The only way to have the ecosystem return to normal is to protect and restore the Atlantic bluefin population.

2 The ethics of overfishing are a widely discussed topic. Most large Atlantic bluefin tuna fishermen don t follow the precautionary principle but rather opt to take as much as they possibly can now. Many argue that overfishing is ethical because it is helping to maintain a healthy economy which would collapse if the size of their catch were to decrease. The argument for overfishing is that since overfishing is benefiting the economy and raising the overall GDP that it must be ethical. It benefits the well being of the society as a whole so they feel that the practice should continue until it is no longer beneficial to the GDP. Others argue that it is our responsibility to protect the Atlantic bluefin from extinction. Small scale fishermen in the Western Pacific Oceanic region feel large commercial anglers are unethical in their practices of removing fish. By taking more than their quota and keeping tuna that aren t mature enough to reproduce these commercial fishermen are eliminating the stock for future generations to utilize. Also many commercial fishermen use illegal spotter planes to stalk and catch tuna as they migrate to reproduce. If unethical practices such as these continue the Atlantic bluefin tuna will become extinct in the near future and the next generation will no longer have access to this valuable resource. Currently overfishing is not a major burden to the economy, but due to the high profits the economy is contributing to the problem of over fishing. With some select Atlantic bluefin tuna being sold for over 1 million dollars a piece fishermen want to exploit the fishery as much as they can maximize current profits. However these practices are not sustainable. According to CNBC.com the practice of catching young tuna to raise and sell is not economical at all. Due to the amount of young fish who die on these tuna ranches it d be more economical for these fishermen to sustainably fish the waters and only keep mature tuna who are of reproductive age.

3 If this practice continues the bluefin will go extinct in the wild in the near future and then this extremely productive fishery will collapse and potentially devastate the economy of many poor countries who harvest this fish. The biggest stakeholders who must be included are the businesses catching the fish and the local communities who are affected by the decisions. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) was created to be able to defend the rights for both sides on the issue and create compromise. The commission works to help create fair fishing boundaries, rules and quotas that meet the needs of the large companies and the local communities who use the fish as a main source of income. They work with the framework set by the United Nations to create clear fishing boundaries for migratory species. This makes it more fair for the local Western Pacific Ocean countries because it in theory decreases the amount of premature fish caught while they migrate. If boundaries set are effective they can help tuna and other migratory fish restock their population. However, compliance by fishermen to obey set quotas has been a struggle. According to atuna.com there has been a growing gap each year between the set quota for tuna sold in the market and the amount which was actually sold. A global solution must be made to protect this fish. It is much more than the valuable resource many fisherman see it as. The Atlantic bluefin tuna is a top predator in the ocean and plays a major role in keeping the ecosystem in balanced. Without a solution to combat overfishing the ocean stock will run dry in a matter of years. With regulation set by the WCPFC and compliance from commercial fishermen the Atlantic bluefin tuna can remain a sustainable resource and abundant in the wild. If a common land ethic can be shared between commercial

4 fishermen and communities which they are effecting the Atlantic bluefin tuna population can be accessible for generations to come.

5 Works Cited "Bluefin Tuna." WorldWildlife.org. World WildlifeFund, n.d. Web. 09 Apr "Changing Tides." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 21 Nov Web. 10 Apr "Ethics of Overfishing." Overfishing - Ethics of Overfishing. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr Harvey, Fiona. "Overfishing Causes Pacific Bluefin Tuna Numbers to Drop 96%." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 09 Jan Web. 09 Apr "Mind The Gap; Report Shows 141% More Bluefin Traded Than ICCAT Quota." Tuna Fishing News. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr "Overfishing." WorldWildlife.org. World WildlifeFund, n.d. Web. 09 Apr overview - Convention & Related Agreements." UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 10 Apr "Tuna Economics: Why Tuna Ranching works in Mexico." CNBC. N.p., 07 Dec Web. 10 Apr

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