Government must choose science over profit for Bluefin Tuna

The Green Party is calling on the Government of  Canada to heed the recommendation of the Committee on the Status of Endangered  Wildlife (COSEWIC) designating the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna an endangered  species.

“The Green Party is extremely concerned about remarks from a  Fisheries and Oceans official which suggest the government may put the economic  interests of a lucrative fishing industry ahead of the best scientific advice of  their own advisory body,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party and  MP-elect Saanich Gulf Islands.   “This is yet another example of the lack of  commitment of the federal government to the moral responsibility to prevent the  extinction of plants and animals, the goal of the Species at Risk Act.”

COSEWIC states that overfishing is largest threat to Bluefin stocks.  However a spokesperson for Fisheries and Oceans Canada told media it would be “premature” to discuss protecting Bluefin Tuna under the Species at Risk Act.  Atlantic Bluefin Tuna are a food fish prized particularly for sushi and sashimi.  The fish fetch a high price on global markets.

“It would be gross  negligence to  ignore the evidence and keep fishing this species,” said Janice  Harvey, Green Party Fisheries Critic. “ We have plenty of evidence of what  happens when economic interests trump the protection of fish species.  The least  Canadians should expect from their fisheries ministers is that they learn from  their mistakes.”

  • The Atlantic Bluefin is found in both western and  eastern Atlantic waters, as well as the Mediterranean.
  • They are among the largest species of bony fish,  reaching well over 450 kg.
  • Bluefin meat can earn as much as $1000 per  kilogram.
  • Approximately 500 tonnes of Bluefin were caught in  Canadian waters in 2010
  • According to the International Commission for the  Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, Atlantic Bluefin stocks have decreased 82% in  the western Atlantic over the last 40 years.
  • Atlantic Bluefin have already been fished to  extinction in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea.
  • Bluefin spawn in the Gulf of Mexico. The effect of  the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on stocks is still unknown.
  • COSEWIC has also issued a grim warning for the  stocks of Atlantic Sturgeon and Eulachon (also called Oolichan). The Eulachon is  an extremely important fish species for First Nations on Canada’s West  Coast.