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Entries in CITES (2)

Sunday
Feb202011

Saving bluefin - in one year?

Image: aboutmyplanet.com

A new website wants you to know how grim the situation has become for Atlantic bluefin.  It includes the stark statement that in all probability, the last bluefin will die in 2012, so we best get cracking on trying to save them.  Is it possible?  Certainly it will take a concerted effort from all nations that currently exploit this species, and a total dismantling of a subsidised tech-heavy industry.  To achieve that in just 12 months, well, forgive me if I wax pessimistic…

That aside, the video is nicely animated and quite information dense, touching on many aspects that plague modern fisheries management like the economies of extinction (when an exploited species becomes ever more valuable, the rarer it gets), tragedy of the commons , bycatch, subsidies and the wasteful nature of feeding cultured predatory fishes.  So, it’s worth your time, and if you live in an EU nation, it’s worth your contacting your country’s responsible ministry to ask what they are doing to help avoid the extinction of one of the oceans noblest creatures.  Finally, it’s worth rejecting bluefin at the market level (in sushi restaurants may be the best place) to help reduce demand. 

Maybe it’s already too late for bluefin, and that’s a tragedy, but the story doesn’t end there.  As we continue to fish down the food web, the crisis will move from bluefin to the next most threatened species and the cycle will reiterate until all that’s left is jellyfish and harmful algal blooms.  If that vision isn’t enough to inspire action, I don’t know what is.

Tuesday
Mar302010

CITES epic fail?

David Helvarg has a scathing OpEd piece in the Huffington Post yesterday, and rightfully so.  CITES, the Council for International Trade in Endangered Species recently failed to give proposed protections to the northern bluefin tuna and several species of threatened sharks, apparently caving to the desires of Japan and other nations with similar pro-harvest agendas.  I dont know how much data you need to be convinced that these populations are threatened to the point of collapse, but even if if there were equivocation on the science (and there's not), why not err on the side of safety?  Just as line calls in baseball go to the batter, decisions regarding endangerment should always go to the organism.

The way I see it, bluefin are stuck in a positive feedback loop of ever increasing commodity value, feeding more intense searching/fishing efforts, further reducing the population and thereby driving the value yet higher.  Its a trajectory that only ends one way, and it ain't a good one.

Oh, and if what Helvarg says is true about the Japanese embassy serving bluefin sashimi at a reception for the CITES delegates, then wow. Just, wow.  I sincerely hope those were artificially reared and not ranched or wild-caught...