As the tuna season in the Mediterranean opens, this year’s fishery should look positive as the 4781 tonne quotas for the French purse seine fleet have close to pre-recovery period levels of 4677 tonnes back in 2007.
Prices for red tuna (bluefin) are expected to be lower this year, as fishing is hit by the uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘Prices were close to €10 per kilo in 2019, with no significant difference prices between line-caught and seine-caught fish.’
According to PO Sathoan, which represents trawlers, small scale vessels and around half of the French Mediterranean tuna fleet, the recovery of the tuna fishery hasn’t happened by accident, but is the result of efforts by all sectors of the industry in adhering to ICCAT scientists’ advice.
‘There is satellite monitoring of ships (by the hour), daily catch control, real-time quota management via logbook and electronic catch document, on-board international observers, surveillance at sea by the French navy and the European Fisheries Control agency, mandatory authorisations required for transfers to farms, control and counting during these transfers, cage counts, and more. The purse seine is one of the most heavily monitored fisheries in the world, from capture to marketing,’ a Sathoan spokesman said.
Sathoan is also quick to play down comparisons with some very high prices paid in Japan for tuna, pointing out that one Toyko restaurant owner in particular always pays an exceptionally high price for the first fish of the year as part of a successful publicity campaign that never fails to make headlines around the world.
‘That fish is not the bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) that we know in the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean, but the Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) which is not found in European waters,’ Sathoan states.
‘We are a very long way from the prices achieved at auctions in Japan.’