Aug 6 (IPS) – Fishing wiped out Atlantic Bluefin tuna stocks in Northern Europe 50 years ago, according to a new study, while ongoing pressure on the remaining stocks is pushing the entire species to the edge of extinction.
Every summer in the early 1900s, Northern European waters from Holland to northern Norway teemed with Atlantic Bluefin tuna, some three metres long and weighing 700 kilogrammes, according to historical fishing records. Few could catch the powerful, fast-swimming fish until the 1930s and 1940s when bigger, faster boats with better catch gear were designed.
“The Bluefin population crashed in the 1960s and more than 40 years later it still hasn’t recovered,” said Brian MacKenzie of the Technical University of Denmark, who led the study to be published in the journal Fisheries Research.
“You simply don’t see bluefins in these waters any more,” MacKenzie told IPS.
There is a clear parallel to the more recent collapse of once abundant Northern Cod stocks. Also fished into near extinction on the other side of the Atlantic, the Cod have not recovered despite a no-fishing ban for the past 15 years.
“I’m afraid what happened to the Bluefin is similar to what happened to the Northern Cod,” he said.