US Petitioned to Place Bluefin Tuna on Endangered Species List

tuna auction photo

photo: Stewart Butterfield via flickr

With the Gulf oil spill threatening Atlantic bluefin tuna spawning grounds, and rampant and ongoing overfishing wiping them out with abandon, the Center for Biological Diversity has filed a formal petition to the US government to place the species on the Endangered Species List. If you don't already know, CBD sums up the threats to Atlantic bluefin:

There are two imperiled populations of Atlantic bluefin tuna; one spawns only in the Gulf of Mexico while the other spawns in the Mediterranean. The petition seeks endangered status for both populations, which have collapsed due to intense overfishing. Despite attempts to set quotas for bluefin tuna, temptation for the popular sushi fish is just too great -- one tuna fetched $177,000 in the fish market this year. In 2007, fishermen reported catching 34,514 tons of eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna, exceeding the allowable catch by about 5,000 tons. Scientists estimated the actual catch was likely about double the reported amount.

Should bluefin be listed as an endangered species, federal agencies such as the Mineral Management Service would have to consider the impact of offshore oil drilling on the species.

bluefin tuna spawning grounds affected by gulf oil spill map

map: Center for Biological Diversity

It would also ban importation of and trade in the fish, something which was sought six weeks ago at the CITES meeting but was voted against. Though the US and several European nations supported a trade ban on bluefin, political pressure from Japan and from other European nations fearing the impact of a ban on their fishing industry turned the tide against bluefin.

At current fishing rates, estimates show the species will be extinct in about three years. The IUCN lists Atlantic bluefin tuna as critically endangered.

Here's the petition itself: Petition to list the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus) as endangered under the United States Endangered Species Act [PDF]

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More on Bluefin Tuna:
Mitsubishi Hopes to Profit From Bluefin Tuna Decline
Endangered Bluefin Tuna Fetches Record Price at Tokyo Auction
CITES Votes No on Bluefin Tuna Ban: Japanese Embassy Serves the Endangered Delicacy at Convention Reception

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