Subsidising extinction

Posted by Willie — 4 December 2009 at 11:39am - Comments

Bluefin tuna - sometimes you just can't believe how absurd the story gets.

News today from WWF and a Green MEP show that over an eight-year period the EU bluefin tuna fishing industry received subsidies totalling €34.5m. Yes folks, your tax helped fund the overfishing of a species now teetering on the very brink of extinction. A species that 21 out of 27 EU countries now think should be subject to an international trade ban.

Political flip-flops on bluefin?

Posted by Willie — 16 November 2009 at 11:36am - Comments

As ICCAT souvenirs, delegates will be packing their bags in Recife with a delightful polo shirt emblazoned with 'ICCAT' and a bluefin tuna, and a pair of flip-flops in Brazilian colours.

Somehow this is quite fitting.

The meeting has just come to a close, and the rushed final sessions have agreed as much as they could. In that haste, several things were put off to be considered again next year. Like the protection of endangered mako and porbeagle sharks, and measures to reduce the bycatch of seabirds and turtles. These sorts of delays are common in ICCAT when agreements can't be reached. But hey, why do today what you can put off until next year, right?

ICCAT: complying through gritted teeth

Posted by Willie — 15 November 2009 at 7:16pm - Comments

The vultures were literally circling overhead as we approached the ICCAT meeting venue this morning… so something is on its last legs.

So, with just one day of the ICCAT meeting left, it’s time to see what has been achieved here this week. The short answer is ‘not a lot’. Despite a week of meetings, including extra, lengthy, evening sessions, virtually nothing has been decided on or agreed yet. Decisions on quotas for fish like bluefin tuna, protection of sharks and seabirds, are being left until the last minute, and all need to be discussed on the last day.

Saving whales and saving money

Posted by Willie — 13 November 2009 at 11:47am - Comments

V for victory? A blue whale anticipates major cuts in Japan's whaling programme.

Many times during this conference I've heard bluefin tuna likened to blue whales - a comparison which has already been expressed eloquently by Charles Clover.

There are several stunning similarities -  they are both the biggest of their kind, hydrodynamic giants, amazingly adapted for life in the ocean. Most alarmingly though, both have been driven to the brink of extinction by overexploitation by a species remarkably ill-adapted for life in the ocean: humans.

Could bluefin tuna fisheries be closed? Our man in Brazil reports...

Posted by Willie — 12 November 2009 at 2:46pm - Comments

So, here in Brazil, the game is on. At the end of yesterday’s session the parties around the table at the ICCAT meeting were asked what their priorities were for conserving bluefin tuna. One by one they made positive murmurings about wanting to 'follow the scientific recommendations', and enforce compliance with them. They all pretty much said they want to see illegal fishing tackled. No rocket science there, and you would be forgiven for wondering why they have not done those things already!

Negotiating with biology

Posted by Willie — 11 November 2009 at 11:24am - Comments

As I write this, I'm sitting in the plenary room of the ICCAT meeting, whilst Charles Clover's film 'The End of The Line' is being screened. This in itself is a great coup.

In a memorable scene from the film, whilst attending a previous ICCAT meeting, Clover himself chastised the bureaucrats in that meeting for setting irresponsibly high quotas that ignored scientific advice. In his words they were '…negotiating with biology. And you just can't do that, and expect to see the biology survive'.

Video: the Inside Story of the plight of bluefin tuna

Posted by jossc — 2 October 2009 at 4:01pm - Comments

Yesterday’s 'Inside Story' on Al Jazeera TV was all about the collapse of bluefin tuna stock in the Mediterannean. The 25 minute programme provided a facinating insight into the politics and greed of the serious overfishing which has left bluefin on the verge of extinction.

Catch a passing FAD

Posted by jossc — 30 September 2009 at 1:51pm - Comments

The crew of the Esperanza, still out patrolling the Pacific against the overfishing of tuna, just sent us this video update. They have been monitoring and confiscating fish aggregating devices (FADs) where ever they come across them. FADs are still being widely used by tuna fishing fleets throughout the Pacific Ocean - despite their use being illegal for most nations over the summer months.

What happened to your promise to protect bluefin, M Sarkozy?

Posted by jossc — 23 September 2009 at 3:28pm - Comments

First of all, apologies to any non-French speakers watching this video, because it's not going to make any sense. So why do I want you to see it? Well, it's more just as supporting evidence (see the transcript below), because this is the statement made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on 16 July, in which he promised "complete French support regarding the listing of bluefin tuna to the international wild species convention, in order to ban any trade in this fish".

Bluefin-Eating Surrender Monkeys?

Posted by Willie — 21 September 2009 at 7:13pm - Comments

It's de rigueur in some quarters to dismiss France jokingly, as the Simpsons and some US political-types famously have done in the past. But the news today from Brussels suggests that the French government have made an embarrassing volte-face on bluefin tuna.

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