During the first four months of 2007, the total weight of fish landed was put at 75,000 tonnes, some 36 per cent lower than the catch during the same period in 2006.
‘The biggest question is whether this decline is a consequence of environmental conditions, or whether somehow the catches of the past few years have affected the population levels,’ said the head of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, Alejandro Anganuzzi.
Previously, declining catches have been attributed to tuna diving deeper to escape the warmer surface-level sea temperatures brought about by global warming. Now a question has been raised as to whether the large catches of the previous four years have led to a serious decline in stocks.
‘Probably in a year or two we will have all the data for our computer modelling to assess the current situation,’ said Anganuzzi, whose organisation is examining the reasons behind the decline.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist August 2007