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World Tuna Day

Shot of a school of tuna fish taken underwater looking up at the surface of the water


In December 2016 the United Nations General Assembly voted 71 to 53 to internationally recognise 2 May as World Tuna Day. The move highlighted the importance of tuna conservation and fisheries management to ensure that there is a system in place to prevent overfishing of tuna. Many countries depend heavily on tuna as a food source, for economic development, culture, recreation and general livelihood. Therefore it was important to bring awareness to the issue of tuna conservation and management. The first World Tuna Day was observed on 2 May 2017.

Why is it observed??

World Tuna Day is observed to spread awareness about the need to manage the global tuna stocks more prudently. At present, over 96 countries are involved in the conservation and management of tuna with an annual value of almost 10 billion USD, at landing. Tuna contributes ubiquitously to every facet of humanity. However, the world’s tuna population is in danger due to overfishing and illegal fishing practices, which is why the UN General Assembly voted to cement World Tuna Day as an international observance, to spread awareness about the importance of managing and conserving our global tuna population.

What is sustainable fishing?

Now, you have probably seen the words “conservation” and “management” multiple times throughout this post. This all has to do with sustainable fishing. In short, sustainable fishing means fishing in a way that the population does not decline over time, or in other words, not overfishing. Sustainable fishing can be managed in a number of ways including introducing limits and quotas, managing fisheries, and enforcing penalties on illegal fishing practices.

What are Tuna fish?

Tuna fish are pelagic fish and are thus found in the open ocean. They are among the only fish that can maintain a body temperature higher than that of its surrounding waters. Tuna fish have a sleek, streamlined body and are active and agile predators. They are one of the fastest-swimming pelagic fish; the yellowfin tuna, for example, can reach speeds of up to 75 km/h. There are two groups of true tunas: the bluefin group consisting of Albacore tuna, Southern bluefin tuna, Bigeye tuna, Pacific bluefin tuna and Atlantic bluefin tuna, and the yellowfin group consisting of the blackfin tuna, Longtail tuna, and Yellowfin tuna.

How can you do your part for tuna sustainability?

The best way to contribute to the conservation and management of tuna stocks is to support sustainable tuna. For a particular seafood to be sustainable it has to meet two requirements: (1) it must come from a fishery whose practices can be maintained indefinitely without reducing the target species’ ability to maintain its population and (2) it must be caught without adversely impacting on other species within the ecosystem – including humans – by removing their food source, accidentally killing them, or damaging their physical environment. Greenpeace Australia has created a Canned Tuna Guide that ranks the big tuna brands based on their commitments to sustainability. Australians consume about 50,000 tonnes of tuna every year, so it wouldn’t hurt to know that you are getting your tuna from a sustainable source!