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Monday, March 22

NZ Government deals a double blow to critically endangered bluefin tunas

The New Zealand Government is pushing the world’s bluefin tuna to extinction, says Greenpeace.
New Zealand has voted against proposed measures to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). (1)

Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas said the “abject failure” of governments to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna spelt disaster for its future, and followed years of scandalous mismanagement by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

The New Zealand Government voted against two proposals to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna by shutting down international trade in the species.

“Back home in our waters, the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries is behaving even more shockingly, placing the critically endangered (2) southern bluefin tuna closer to the brink of extinction by proposing to increase the quota.

“The Ministry of Fisheries is trying to make a quick buck out of a critically endangered species. Is that the sort of fisheries management reputation we want?”

The latest figures released by the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) show stocks have fallen to below five per cent of un-fished levels. Projections by the Commission’s scientific committee indicated that only a zero catch would allow the stock to recover to 20 per cent by 2030. (3)

Despite that, countries agreed only to reduce global catches from 11,810 tonnes down to 9,449 tonnes. Meanwhile the Ministry of Fisheries has proposed to increase New Zealand’s total allowable catch of bluefin tuna by 27 per cent. (4)

Thomas said Greenpeace was calling for the immediate withdrawal of the proposal to increase New Zealand’s quota and closure of the southern bluefin tuna fishery, in line with scientific advice, to allow the stock to recover.

“The Ministry of Fisheries proposal to up the catch of critically endangered southern bluefin tuna, when they know stocks are already below five per cent, is scandalous. If our Minister is to have any credibility he must stop this obscene proposal in its tracks.”

New Zealand’s proposal to up the catch of a critically endangered species, along with its recent support for a deal that would undermine the moratorium on commercial whaling and attempts to open up precious conservation land to mining, had the potential to irreparably damage the country’s “clean, green” reputation, she said.