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Join retailers’ Mediterranean bluefin tuna boycott, urges WWF


As more and more major European retailers boycott Mediterranean Bluefin Tuna, WWF used the occasion of the Barcelona Seafood Summit to call on more to join the ban until the imperilled species is out of the danger zone.

France’s Auchan group, with a nearly 14 per cent share of the retail fish trade, declared its boycott on 28 December, noting that scientists had advised a 15,000 tonne ceiling on annual catches, while the international tuna management body was allowing a 2008 quota of 29,500 tonnes.

“Moreover, each year, captures greatly exceed the fixed quotas,” Auchan said in a statement outlining how the ban had been taken in line with its policy of pursuing a sustainable trade in fish.

“WWF applauds Auchan in France, Carrefour in Italy, Coop in both Italy and Switzerland, and ICA in Norway for their courageous decisions to stop selling Mediterranean bluefin tuna – and we urge other retailers to follow suit,” says Dr Sergi Tudela, Head of Fisheries at WWF Mediterranean.

“The seafood industry is waking up to its responsibilities, recognising that there is not an endless supply of fish like bluefin tuna. By taking action now, retailers can help give this amazing species a fighting chance of survival, for the benefit of both business and the marine ecosystem.”

Scientists have declared it “probable” that populations of the magnificent bluefin tuna, much prized especially for sushi in Japan, will soon collapse in the Mediterranean – unless action is taken now.

Before retailers started taking matters into their own hands, WWF had suggested to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting in November that contracting countries agree on a 3-year ban on bluefin tuna fishing, but this move was rejected.

Following massive demand in recent years – especially from Japan where Atlantic bluefin is prized for Sushi – high-tech fishing fleets have hunted down, often illegally, ever-declining numbers of these migratory ocean giants.

WWF exposed the drastically out-of-control nature of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery in the 2007 season when illegal fishing was again rife – including the use of banned spotter planes, as well as widespread unreporting. According to WWF sources, the Spanish authorities, for example, officially declared only two thirds of the nation’s catch last year.

“Fisheries management has gone completely off the rails – the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery is now a dangerous game in which clearly all sides will lose,” Dr Tudela said. “That’s why WWF is urging retailers to stand up for sustainable fish.”
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