Target: Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Hiroshi Moriyama
Goal: Stop the overfishing of bluefin tuna in Japanese waters before the species goes extinct.
Bluefin tuna in Japanese waters are being overfished to the point that they have been deemed a vulnerable species. High-tech fishing armadas are collecting huge catches of bluefin tuna at their spawning grounds, adversely affecting tuna population growth and the local fishing economy.
The spawning site, roughly 240 miles from Iki Island, is one of only two confirmed places in the world where the Pacific bluefin gather to spawn before they resume their journey around the Pacific Ocean. Decades of overfishing has led to a huge decline in their numbers, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature recently classed them as a vulnerable species, one level below endangered. The most recent stock assessment from the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-Like Species in the North Pacific Ocean puts the Pacific bluefin population at around 4 percent of historic levels.
Groups of local fishermen and national legislators have lobbied the Japanese government to create and enforce regulations, as none are in place regarding the netting of spawning bluefin adults, but they have met with resistance. Fisheries officials claim that according to their sources and international management bodies, it is the overfishing of juveniles rather than the targeting of spawn sites that is responsible for the drastic decline in bluefin stocks. However, some fishery scientists allege that it is a combination, with spawn site fishing seriously threatening the species’ future.
Similar practices in the Mediterranean over two decades, including the use of spotter planes and sonar by purse-seine fleets to spot spawning sites, led to the drop in bluefin stocks there. Call on the Japanese leadership to stop this wanton overfishing and enforce new regulations.
Dear Minister Moriyama,
The population of bluefin tuna in Japanese waters and the North Pacific is at a historically low level. Not only is this problem affecting the conservation and survival of this species, but it is also creating problems for Japanese fishermen, whose livelihoods are at stake.
The area in question, near Iki Island, is one of only two places in the world that is known to be a spawning ground for the bluefin tuna. This is being exploited by high-tech fishing fleets who are tracking and netting the tuna, and doing so without regulatory oversight, as regulations have yet to be put in place regarding the spawning adult fish. As has been documented with similar approaches to bluefin fishing in the Mediterranean, this is a contributing factor in the decline taking place.
In order for this species and the fishermen who depend on them to survive, controls must be put in place to promote conservation over profit. I urge you and legislators to create and enforce the necessary rules regarding the fishing of bluefin tuna in order to protect both them and the local fishermen.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: CPSH