The East Atlantic and Mediterranean Bluefin Tuna Stock: Looking for Sustainability in a Context of Large Uncertainties and Strong Political Pressures
Abstract:The Atlantic bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus (Linnaeus, 1758) has been continually exploited in the Mediterranean Sea since antiquity, but it has recently become highly profitable with the decisive development of the sushi-sashimi market in Japan. Consequently, there was (and still is) a sharp increase in the efficiency of long-established fisheries together with the rapid emergence of new fisheries. As a result, the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna stock is likely to be overexploited and overfished as it currently suffers the highest fishing pressure of its entire history. In addition, the recent implementation of a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) has induced increasing uncertainties in the catch and effort data and made the standard stock assessment inoperative. Therefore, the main challenge for the conservation of this stock has become more political than scientific. Such a situation is particularly worrisome since their life history traits make the Atlantic bluefin tuna more vulnerable to exploitation than other tuna species. Furthermore, the population dynamics of Atlantic bluefin tuna is complex and analyses of historical data (going back to the 16th century) have indicated the occurrence of long-term fluctuations in abundance and/or availability to fishing. Such a feature questions some of the current management rules.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2005-04-01
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