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BLUEFIN TUNA

© Wild Wonders of Europe / Zankl / WWF

Bluefin tuna are one of the most important fish in the Mediterranean – both for their commercial value, and for the role they play as top predators in marine ecosystems. We are working to ensure these amazing fish are managed sustainably and thrive again in our sea.

WHAT'S AT STAKE?

For size, speed and status, few fish can match the bluefin tuna. Yet only a decade ago, it looked like this amazing species could be lost to the Mediterranean forever.

As apex predators, bluefin tuna play a key role in marine ecosystems. They’re an important part of Mediterranean culture too, having been hunted, eaten and supporting local communities since ancient times. And commercially, they’re among the most valuable of all fish species – particularly in Japan, where bluefin is a highly prized delicacy in sushi and sashimi.

Overfishing and poor management pushed bluefin tuna populations to the edge of extinction, with stocks plummeting by 85% in just a few years. But thanks to a concerted effort by WWF and others, stocks in the Mediterranean are recovering. It’s been an incredible success story so far – but the future of tuna in the Mediterranean remains in the balance…

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Did you know?

Bluefin tuna can grow to over 2m and 250kg, but giant specimens almost twice as long and three times as heavy have been recorded; they can accelerate up to 70km/h in short bursts.

© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF

WHAT WE'RE DOING

Over the last decade, we’ve seen bluefin tuna make a remarkable comeback. In 2009, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) – the inter-governmental organization responsible for managing tuna stocks in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean – adopted a science-based recovery plan that put strict controls on tuna fishing. As a result, bluefin tuna have grown in size and number, with the overall biomass in the Mediterranean increasing by around 400%.

As stocks recover, though, there is a higher risk for illegal fishing, which is not only a major threat itself, but a factor that can significantly influence the reliability of stock assessments, underminining the hard-won progress made to date: investigations suggests that twice as much illicit bluefin tuna is sold in Europe as is legally traded.

It’s vital that we continue to work together to promote sustainable fishing and consumption to ensure bluefin tuna keeps its vital role  in the Mediterranean marine ecosystem for generations to come.

We're going to keep fighting for bluefin tuna – and it's a fight we intend to win once and for all.

© Frédéric Bassemayousse / WWF