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World Tuna Day: "Overfishing and mismanagement threaten its survival"

Only last year, the ministerial fishing quotas for the bluefin tuna were fixed, from 2018 to 2020. These quotas are also increasing for Sardinia, thanks to the improvement of fish stocks in the Mediterranean. For 2018, the catch quota (TAC) allocated to Italy by the European Union, according to the directives of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna, is 3894 tons, which will continue to grow until 2020 (4308 tons in 2019 and 4756 tons in 2020), confirming the same percentage (about 8%) to fixed tuna traps. The Isola Piana, Portoscuso and Porto Paglia tuna fisheries will be able to fish 328 tonnes of bluefin tuna, while the largest share will always be allocated to the purse seine system (2886 tonnes), followed by longlines (527 tons) and, to a lesser extent, recreational and sport fishing (18 tons).

In the debate, always thorny, on the delicate balance between the needs of work and those of the exploited nature, the same entrepreneurs of the Tonnare Sarde had expressed concern about the general increase in the fishing quota, which would lead to a fall in the price of tuna. For those who emphasise the survival of tuna populations at global level, only the reasons for concern change. Tuna is under threat and there is a risk that it will not be able to withstand the pressure of industrialised fishing, which has come from years of mismanagement and overfishing, as in the case of Mediterranean bluefin tuna. This situation has been made even more serious by the system of tuna fed and fattened on sea farms. On the occasion of the World Tuna Day of 2 May, the anniversary established by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the reflection is therefore directed to emphasize the need for sustainable management of its fishing. To date, more than 80 states are practicing tuna fishing and its scope, as already mentioned, continues to grow. The first product to guide the production of canned fish is canned tuna, a market that in Italy has a value of about 1.3 billion euros (2018), with a national production of 74,000 tons and a consumption of 153,251 tons or about 2.5 kg per capita, for a sector that has about 1,500 employees. The other product that makes the demand (and therefore the supply) on the market is the sashimi/sushi. The differences are significant as regards the species used, the quality requirements and the production systems. In the canning market, light meat species - in particular skipjack tuna and yellowfin tuna - are dominant, while in the sushi and sashimi market, bluefin tuna or other bluefin tuna species such as bigeye tuna are preferred. Bigeye tuna is at the top of the preferences for the sushi and sashimi market, most of which is imported into Japan. In order not to jeopardise the future of tuna, a number of projects have been launched in recent years: specific protection and certification initiatives, aimed at conserving and protecting the marine ecosystem and biodiversity, defending the balance between resources and fishing activity, ensuring natural renewal, avoiding overfishing, illegal and incidental fishing. But the road is still long and full of obstacles, especially if only the needs of a short-sighted market are the driving force.

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