Sunday, February 17, 2008

AAAS meeting -- Will tuna follow cod?

The Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science has been driving much of the climate news over the past few days. Coming up tomorrow morning from 9:15-12:15 is a session with important implications for climate change adaptation, "The Last Best Chance for Tuna: Learning from the Cod Collapse." (The Hynes Convention Center, 2nd level.)

The synopsis says: Two commercial icons of the sea, cod and tuna, have shaped economies of whole nations yet now face regional extinction. Just as cod was once perceived as Canada’s "Newfoundland currency," tuna is largely considered our "chicken of the sea" — cheap and plentiful. Decades ago, the productivity of cod seemed limitless while warning signs went unheeded. Short-term economic pressures, bycatch of juveniles, and denial about the real state of the fishery all contributed to the demise of northwest Atlantic cod. A similar situation is now developing with tuna fisheries worldwide, notably in the Mediterranean with bluefin. If the world acts now, however, the future for tuna in one important area — the Coral Triangle/West and Central Pacific complex — can be ensured. This biologically diverse region bridges insular Southeast Asia and the Pacific and hosts spawning areas for five species of tuna. Of these, overfishing of bigeye and yellowfin is now occurring, according to the U.S. government. To avoid a crisis in this region of struggling economies, new and equitable management measures are needed. Current practices do not address high juvenile bycatch and the economic inequities that leave few incentives for improved tuna management, particularly for those fishers who gain no economic returns from the more valuable Pacific catch. To address these and other challenges, speakers present ideas across disciplines to help shape a new vision for the world’s last great tuna population.

Some abstracts and information on the participants here.

Line drawing of the Atlantic cod by Pearson Scott Foresman, Wikimedia Commons

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