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.