The special dangers for migratory fish – like the Pacific albacore are not new. Fish move through the open seas, parts of which are protected by governments and consumers that want to preserve species for future generations and others frequented by governments and fishermen who care only about immediate profit.
Migration reflects both the power and vulnerability of these great fish.
In 1915, the Northern Committee of the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean reviewed conservation issues for several species: the North Pacific albacore (Thunnus alalunga), Pacific bluefin tuna (T. thynnus), swordfish (Xiphias gladius), striped marlin (Tetrapturus audax). The commission “reviewed the status of data and data gaps for northern stocks,and assessed levels of cooperation with other organizations.”
Over the years, some try to downplay migration as a factor and suggest that local communities have a right to catch as much fish as they please:
“In the past the tuna has always enjoyed the reputation of being a formidable sea traveller, and around its periodic nuptial voyages, the ancients formed theories in which truth and fancy intermingled. This reputation has suffered somewhat, because of a modern conception which tends to confine the migrations of the tuna within very limited areas, interpreting them as a strictly local phenomenon. The writer believes, however, that its fame is well deserved, and of this the numerous fishhooks of indubitable origin, snatched from the fishing lines and found in the stomachs or fastened in the mouths of tuna caught in far distant places, is ample proof.”
His archive is at the Laboratory of Marine Biology and Fisheries, University of
Bologna, Fano, Italy, and includes more than 6,000 individual skeletal
specimens of juvenile and adult fish of Mediterranean large pelagic species caught in Italian, Spanish, and North African waters.
Nearly a century ago, researchers expressed concern about the demise of great migrators like the North Atlantic blue fin tuna. We hope the great migrators are with us a century from now….