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Buyers threaten boycott of Mediterranean bluefin tuna

Responding to fears of an imminent collapse of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean, major fish buyers in Japan and Europe are threatening a boycott unless drastic measures are taken to protect the threatened stock, claims WWF

November 16, 2006

Buyers threaten boycott of Mediterranean bluefin tuna

Responding to fears of an imminent collapse of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean, major fish buyers in Japan and Europe are threatening a boycott unless drastic measures are taken to protect the threatened stock, claims WWF.

Major Japanese retailer Seiyu has declared it will not buy bluefin tuna from the Mediterranean as long as stocks are in danger of collapse. And restaurants in Europe have already stopped buying Mediterranean bluefin tuna.

“We see the Mediterranean bluefin tuna issue as a matter of serious importance,” said Kazunari Take, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager of Seiyu. “We are closely monitoring the situation and will act responsibly as befits our industry leader position.”

Seiyu is one of the largest retailers in Japan, with 211 shops and a turnover of some €4.5 billion. Japan is one of the world's largest markets for Mediterranean bluefin tuna, where the fish is highly prized for sushi and sashimi.

Through corporate social responsibility, Seiyu advocates contributing to a sustainable society and planet by way of intelligent business activity.

“The merchandise procurement process must have a perspective for long-term global environmental conservation,” Take added.

In the UK, sushi restaurant chain Moshi Moshi has stopped serving bluefin tuna as a direct response to the critical situation of stocks in the Mediterranean.

“We replaced bluefin on our menus with other tuna species, such as yellowfin, albacore and bigeye, and sushi lovers still keep coming,” said Caroline Bennett, founder and owner of Moshi Moshi. “If we eat too much bluefin tuna today, there will be none left tomorrow.”

Another restaurant, Memento in Madrid echoes this reaction.

“Bluefin tuna carpaccio was the most popular dish at my restaurant, but I have taken it off the menu,” said Karen Bell, owner of Memento. “We strongly support the urgent conservation of this magnificent species. I will not use bluefin tuna in any of our dishes until I am sure it is sustainably managed and safe from the risk of extinction.”

Delegates from the 42-nation International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which is responsible for regulating the fishery, are meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia next week to discuss conservation and management measures for the fishery.

If ICCAT fails to agree on the strict recovery plan for the fishery that has been recommended by international scientists, WWF will urge the Japanese government to instruct all tuna buyers to stop importing Mediterranean bluefin tuna.
 
“Consumers do not want to eat illegal and threatened bluefin tuna,” said Dr Arata Izawa, WWF-Japan's Marine Programme Officer.

“If ICCAT fails to adopt the necessary management measures, responsible buyers will have no choice but to stop importing bluefin from the Mediterranean if they want the species to have any chance of survival.”

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