Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Bluefin Tuna

Bluefin Tuna Aquaculture

Viewpoints

Pedro Garcia

Pedro Garcia

La Asociacion de Naturalistas del Sureste (ANSE) in Southeast Murcia, Cartagena, Spain.

Fishing tuna for the farms can be another form of excessive fishing- a form of fishing that can threaten wild tuna populations. It is since the arrival of the Japanese market that everything has been complicated. Boats with "flags of convenience" were often using our ports and were fishing tuna in the western Mediterranean. From our point of view, they have greatly contributed to the overexploitation of the tuna.

The differences in the fishing methods are huge. There is the traditional fishing with a fishhook where they only fish few tunas each draw. But with the other method the boats that fish tuna for the farms capture an enormous quantity of tuna from one time alone. The fish that goes to the farms don't pass through LONGA. The traditional fisherman has to declare everything to LONGA. The farms do not declare this fish because no one controls the exact number of tuna that the farms produce within them.

Many of the tunas captured die on their way to the farms, but there are no official statistics. When a boat captures a group of tunas, a portion die at this moment, another part goes to the farm, to the pool on the boat, which is then transferred to the farm. En route, another portion of the tuna also die, no one knows or says how many die. Another portion dies when they arrive at the farm. There is a loss of fish, which are reproducers. It is very important to notice that the tuna farms capture reproducing tunas and this Mediterranean reproducing bank is being put in danger.


Gines Mendez

Gines Mendez

President of Atunes de Mazarron in Murcia, Spain

The fishermen must continue to evolve to aquaculture as he did on land, from hunter to rancher. From a fruit collector, he became a farmer. This step has yet to be taken in fishing. Aquaculture is a special opportunity to precisely control many variables that can't be controlled when a species grows in the wild.

There has been very intense tuna fishing until now. As a matter of fact, aquaculture has already started to alleviate wild stocks. Tuna aquaculture is a very substantial shock absorber for extractive fishing because a fisherman receives, as a minimum, seven times more for his catch than 15 years earlier. If the fisherman gets more resources, more value for his product, he will need to fish less. If in order to feed each tuna, the tuna farmers need to feed it 20 kilos of small fish, then this is a benefit for all. The way I see it, this is an advantage for the extractive sector, for the fishing industry. How is that a waste of resources?

What if you pay 50 cents of an Euro for 1 kilo of bait, and then, you are able to transform those 50 cents of an Euro and multiply them by 10 times. If it is not supposed to add any value, what is one to do? Is it a sin to generate income? Making money and generating income is what the enterprise is after in order to create more jobs, to be able to grow and to be able to advance technologically.


Pablo Xandri

Pablo Xandri

Director for the Conservation Program of the WWF Adena in Madrid, Spain.

The first problem we found is a lack of transparency in the data regarding tuna populations. What we do know with some certainty is based on data from 1998, which says that the population has decreased by eighty percent.

We think that tuna farming can alleviate the problems of over-fishing, but currently they are not providing a real solution because they are not growing tuna on the farms. The tuna are being caught from the wild and being fattened on the farm. They are still cutting into the wild population. It is not a closed water farming cycle that is breeding and reproducing the tuna; rather they are capturing them in the wild. The farms are increasing pressure on the wild stocks.

The resource of tuna is a grand resource that can produce a lot of wealth. It is also a public asset, a common asset, and because it is a public asset, it must be protected. In five to ten years, the wild tuna population can collapse; it will not be able to reproduce any more and cannot be recovered. Now is the moment that all methods for saving the tuna should be put into place to preserve it.