The Beacon

Blog Tags: Bluefin Tuna

The Scanner: Bluefin Win Edition

Happy Friday, ocean lovers! Lots of juicy ocean news to review this week.

And don't forget, you can get pithy ocean updates all week long by following us on Twitter and Facebook. Without further ado:

...The big ocean story of this week was a positive one: the U.S. backed the bluefin tuna trade ban at the upcoming CITES meeting. The Washington Post published a great slideshow of bluefin photos and the New York Times ran an editorial urging the U.S. to convince the EU and others to follow their lead.

...Chile's fishing industry, which produces 4 percent of the world's annual catch of seafood, was hit hard by the recent earthquake. Meanwhile, the country's salmon farms, which are located hundreds of miles south of the quake's epicenter, suffered minimal damage, but have been affected by the slowdown in transportation.

...Turns out the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has a cousin in the Atlantic, hundreds of miles off the North American coast, roughly in the latitudes between Cuba and Virginia. Researchers from Woods Hole found more than 520,000 bits of trash per square mile in some areas.

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U.S Backs Bluefin Trade Ban

bluefin tuna

Some great news for the imperiled bluefin tuna: Today the U.S. announced that it supports a total ban on the international trade of the tigers of the sea, which could make a big difference in the two weeks leading up to the CITES meeting in Doha.

Thanks to all of you who have taken action leading up to CITES. Now let's hope the European Union follows suit.

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A Chance for Bluefin

Things could be looking up for the tigers of the sea.

Next month, 175 nations will meet in Doha, Qatar to discuss whether bluefin tuna will join the likes of pandas and elephants as endangered species under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

While France has joined Monaco in declaring its support for the ban, Spain’s position remains in doubt.

Spain currently holds the EU presidency and the dubious honor of catching much of the Mediterranean's bluefin tuna. Yesterday, Oceana held an event along with Greenpeace, MarViva, Pew, WWF and Ecologistas en Acción urging Spain to support the ban.

Kofi Annan, Michael Douglas and Colin Firth, among many other public personalities, have signed on in support of the listing.

Oceana will be in Doha in March voicing our support for bluefin. Here’s hoping -- and stay tuned.

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Wha? Wednesday: Bluefin for Sale

bluefin tuna

As you know, Wednesdays are normally devoted to blogging about the latest whale news. But I’ve redubbed today’s post in honor of yesterday's news about a certain sleek giant of the sea who continues to fetch exorbitant auction prices as it heads toward extinction. It makes you go, “Wha?”

Yesterday, a 513-pound bluefin tuna sold for $177,000 -- the most since 2001 -- in an auction at Tokyo’s famous fish market.

Ironically, the sale took place amid a decline in Japanese tuna consumption due to the nation’s worst recession since World War II.

So as Tokyo’s fish market representatives fret over how to keep c

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The Scanner

Happy Friday, everyone! Hopefully by now you've had a chance to fully digest your Thanksgiving leftovers, because I've got some ocean goodies for you to devour:

This week in ocean news,

...Wired Science pondered why blue whales' voices are growing deeper and deeper. Hypotheses revolve around increased noise pollution and the physics of sounds in increasingly warmer waters. Barry White Whale, anyone?

...For the first time, scientists were able to use DNA tools to trace the geographic origin of scalloped hammerhead shark fins in a Hong Kong fish market to their original location thousands of miles away. NPR ran a story about the DNA tool's potential to monitor endangered species trafficking several months ago.

...The Washington Post reported on the international efforts required to stop the overfishing of important marine species such as bluefin tuna and sharks. The article quotes Oceana's Courtney Sakai: "Shark fins are today's ivory tusks," Sakai said. "Like elephants, the world is realizing that sharks are more valuable alive than dead."

...Yesterday, after years of work by Oceana, federal regulations protecting 200,000 square miles of U.S. Arctic waters from industrial fishing went into effect.

...Conservation groups pled with the Obama Administration to protect the Okinawa dugong and other endangered wildlife -- including three species of sea turtle -- by cancelling plans to expand a U.S. military base near Henoko in Okinawa, Japan. There are only around 50 Okinawa dugong remaining in the world.

...Deep Sea News conducted an interesting thought experiment on why the largest animals in the sea, whales, aren't even larger.

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Bluefin Tuna: A Worthy Opponent in Decline

I'm a little disappointed in this New York Times story about Dave Lamoureux, a fisherman who battles bluefin tuna from his unmotorized sea kayak. On the one hand, it reinforces the mythos around bluefin, that they are majestic creatures worthy of being considered alongside terrestrial predators like tigers or lions. On the other hand, it presents the fish as just a critter to be caught because someone can. Much like big game hunting in Africa fell out of favor as the giant cats and elephants became endangered, bluefin tuna fishing should also be pursued only with the understanding that these are critically endangered animals.

It's disappointing since Andrew Revkin has done a terrific job chronicling the massive overfishing of bluefin tuna in the very same newspaper. The population of bluefin that Lamoureux pursues from his kayak is among the most devastasted in the world, already reduced to less than 20 percent of their historic levels, and there are already strict rules in place to keep the fish from disappearing entirely.

Given that the story is floating near the top of the NYT's most-emailed list right now, I see this as a missed opportunity to both celebrate the bluefin's impressive power, fight and speed as well as warn about losing it to overfishing.

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The Scanner

Coelacanth model

Coelacanth model from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

This week in ocean news,

...the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas approved next year's Atlantic tuna quotas, disappointing conservationists who say that only a complete closure of the fishery will allow the great fish to avoid collapse.

...scientists recommended a lower pollock quota this year in the North Pacific fishery, the largest in the U.S., as the population still struggles to rebound. Spawning levels are at their lowest in 30 years. Japan, scientists photographed a juvenile coelacanth for the first time. Long thought to be extinct, these ancient creatures were rediscovered in the early 20th century and little is known about them.

...the U.S. Senate's Commerce, Science and Transporation Committee passed the Shark Conservation Act of 2009, which would require all sharks be landed whole in the U.S. and eliminate loopholes that allowed the transfer of fins at sea in order to get around shark finning laws. The vote brought the Act one major step closer to becoming law.

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ICCAT Disappoints Again

Bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean

Bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean ©Oceana

To the surprise of no one, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) failed again this year to adequately protect Atlantic bluefin tuna. Last week, ICCAT met in Brazil to set the 2010 quotas for the critically endangered bluefin tuna, and several of Oceana's scientists and campaigners were present.

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The Scanner

Happy Friday!

This week in ocean news,

...Dot Earth reports that scientists have found yet more evidence of climate change -- an increase in record high temperatures and a reduction in record low nighttime temperatures across the United States.

...As Sea Notes celebrated, the brown pelican, now ubiquitous along the East and West coasts, has been been officially declared recovered and removed from the Endangered Species list decades after its populations were decimated by DDT.

...Wrap your brain around this: scientists have discovered that a species of deep-sea crab, the squat crab, survives on a diet of trees that have sunk to the ocean floor, supporting the theory that when a tree falls in the ocean... there is somebody there to snack on it.

...The fate of bluefin tuna again rested in the hands of The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which met this week in Brazil. Oceana continues to call for a complete moratorium on bluefin tuna fishing.

...A Japanese trawler tipped over when it tried to haul in a catch of several dozen giant Nomura's jellyfish. Yikes.

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