Unfortunately, the CITES meetings concluded without providing any trade protections whatsoever for severely depleted Atlantic bluefin tuna and four vulnerable species of sharks – scalloped hammerhead, oceanic white tip, porbeagle and spiny dogfish in 2010.
Size: Exceed 10 feet in length and weights over 1,000 pounds, making them among the largest bony fish in the world. However, most are commonly see at 78 inches. One-year-old tuna are about 10 pounds and age 2-4 bluefin tuna are typically 20-80 pounds. ‘Giant’ is a subjective term used for mature bluefin tuna that typically are at least 10 years old and 200 pounds or more.
Color: Deep metallic blue dorsally – although on larger fish this can appear black – fading down the sides to silver with a silvery-white belly. Sometimes irregular iridescent white, grey, and silver bands and spots are on the belly. The first dorsal fin is yellow or blue while the second dorsal fin is red or brown. The anal fin and finlets are yellow and edged in black.
Body: Like all tunas, the body is fusiform, making the fish look something like a giant football. The body is tallest behind the operculum and where the pelvic fins begin. The body then tapers to the caudal peduncle. This tuna has a pointed snout and smaller eyes than other tuna species. Like most other tunas and pelagic bony fish, the dorsal, pelvic, and pectoral fins fit into slots in the body to reduce drag while cruising in the water.
At least 8.2 tonnes of the seized tuna documented in the report were below the size limit (pdf, p.47)—many around 1 kilo (2.2 pounds), indicating that they were only four months old when caught. In late October of last year, for instance, the Sicilian coast guard seized five trucks carrying around 3,000 such baby tuna, according to the report.
What’s to be done? Track the catch better, for one thing. Pew recommends that the EU scrap its paper-based catch documentation system in favor of electronic tracking, which will help buyers ensure that their bluefin purchases were legally caught. After several years of delays, the electronic system is finally set to launch in March of 2015. Considering the volume of tuna that will be killed in the meantime, that’s too long to wait, says Pew.