Endangered Tuna for Centuries Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1413 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Animals

The most modern of these trawlers have their own freezers and facilities. Because the catch can be processed on board, these fishing boats can remain at sea for months at a time.

Corollary to commercial overfishing, the tuna stocks are also being depleted by tuna farming. Australian fishers, for example, use purse seine nets to enclose shools of Southern bluefins and tow them to fishpens located near the Australian mainland. The tuna are then fattened for a few months before being slaughtered and sold to the Japanese markets ("What are Southern Bluefin Tuna").

Tuna farms have also exploded along the Mediterranean coast. As of 2002, 30 farms along the Spanish, Croatian and Maltese coasts produced an estimated 12,000 metric tons of tuna annually. More tuna farms are underway in Tunisia, Algeria, Greece and Turkey ("Mediterranean bluefin tuna on endangered list?").

Rather than allow wild tuna populations to recover, these tuna farms present an even greater strain on the tuna populations. This is because tuna do not breed in captivity ("Mediterranean bluefin tuna on endangered list?"). As soon as the captive tuna are slaughtered and sold, new schools of fish have to be caught to replenish the empty fishpens.

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This growing demand of these farms far outstrips the tuna population's ability to replenish itself. The Southern bluefin, for example, can live up to 40 years. They do not reach sexual maturity until they are around 6 feet long and around 440 pounds. Experts believe that females reach spawning size only after eight years. To complicate matters, the tuna breeding cycle is also regulated by the season and the temperature of the ocean waters. The Southern bluefin only spawns during the warm summer months in the Indian Ocean. A single female bluefin can produce several million eggs during spawning season ("What are Southern Bluefin Tuna").

Term Paper on Endangered Tuna for Centuries, the Assignment

Because of their inability to breed in captivity, their limited spawning season and the length of time needed to a female tuna to reach sexual maturity, continued overfishing interrupts the reproductive cycle. Juvenile and smaller fish are caught before they could spawn. To replenish their stocks, trawlers have traditionally moved to other parts of the sea. However, with fish stocks being depleted all over the globe, there are fewer and fewer tuna species to harvest.


Marine biologists say that the only way to let the tuna species recover is a moratorium on tuna fishing. During the 1990s, fishing quotas were imposed on the Atlantic salmon. The moratorium helped the Atlantic salmon recover from the brink of extinction back to healthy levels.

However, these direct fishing quotas do not include the number of fish caught for fattening in Mediterranean tuna farms. Because of this loophole, trawlers can continue to use purse seine nets to catch schools of juvenile fish unregulated. Compounding the problem, tuna fishers often do not give accurate reports regarding the size of their catch. Scientists are thus unable to give accurate estimates about the number of tuna remaining in the wild.

In conclusion, 40 years of commercial fishing continue to take their toll on tuna and other marine species. The popular Northern and Southern bluefins are now facing extinction. Other tuna species now face the same danger, as they are being eyed as replacements for the other tuna species.

As the tuna population has shown, the myth of the "limitless bounty" of the sea is now being replaced by the reality of overfished and dwindling populations. Tuna and other species are being pushed to the brink of extinction. Unless people heed these warning signs, there is a great chance that species such as the Northern and Southern bluefin would not recover.

Works Cited

ECES News Article." News articles. 7 February 2003. ECES. 1 August 2003 http://eces.org/ec/extinction/marinefish.shtml.

Greenpeace. "Greenpeace launches campaign to save endangered tuna." Archives. 27 March 1997. Greenpeace. 1 August 2003 http://archive.greenpeace.org/~comms/97/ocean/press/march25.html.

Hailes, Julia. "The Trouble with Tuna." BBC News. May 2000. BBC. 1 August 2003 http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/features/pf_jh_tuna.shtml.

Mediterranean bluefin tuna on endangered list." SPC Fisheries Information Newsletter January - March 2002.. 3 August 2003 http://www.spc.int/coastfish/News/Fish_News/100/NIAR_100_3.htm.

What are Southern Bluefin Tuna." About Southern Bluefin Tuna. March 2003. Commission on the Preservation of Southern Bluefish Tuna. 1 August 2003 http://www.ccsbt.org/docs/about_s.html. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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