EU Closes Bluefin Season; WWF Says Far More Restrictions Needed

Under intensifying pressure from scientists and conservation groups, the European Union decided to close the bluefin tuna fishing season in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic two weeks early.

The early closure affects the purse seine fleet, which catches three-quarters of the bluefin tuna in the region and which last year “substantially” overfished the prized species, the EU said. June is the most productive month for catching bluefin, and the European Commission — the executive arm of the EU — decided to close the season on June 16 for all countries except Spain, whose season will close June 23. The World Wildlife Fund, which has documented how the Mediterranean fleet has illegally harvested more than twice its quota in recent years, called the decision a good first step. WWF said it must now be followed by more comprehensive measures, including a possible complete closure of the fishery for several years, followed by a radical reduction of the quota and fleet capacity.