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Malta's Blue Fin on Brink of Extinction

MALTA - Maltas multi-million euro tuna ranching industry may well be driving the Mediterranean bluefin tuna to the brink of extinction.

In recent years there has been growing international concern over the survival of the Northern bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus): now classified as a critically endangered species, writes Raphael Vassallo for Malta Today.

According to the news agency, commercial interests, fuelled mainly by the Japanese sushi market, have driven industrial fishing fleets to exhaust one breeding ground after another. As a result, the bluefin tuna is already all but extinct in the Pacific, while the Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks are now so severely depleted that the fish cannot naturally reproduce in sufficient quantities to guarantee future. This, scientists warn, is a sure-fire recipe for global extinction.

But despite an international recovery programme and a European Commission maritime surveillance exercise commenced this summer, we are still witnessing a systematic mass-extermination of bluefin tuna for the short-term gain of only one specific sector of the fisheries industry, reports Malta Today.

The loss of any predator at the top of the food chain is bound to have serious, if unpredictable, consequences for the marine ecosystem as a whole. But if the bluefin tuna disappears altogether, so too will Matas traditional long-line tuna fishing trade, which supports over 1,000 families. On an international scale, the cost of a total bluefin tuna stocks collapse is simply incalculable.