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Last week the International Commission on the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas lived up to its cynical moniker: the International Conspiracy to Catch All Tuna. Meeting in Brasil, the group set next year's bluefin catch limit at 13,500 metric tons after hearing scientific testimony that at such levels don't even leave the great fish with a 50-50 chance of recovering. Current populations are about 20 percent of historic figures.
"I don't gamble with those odds," said Dr. Susan Lieberman of the Pew Environmental Trust, who attended the deliberations.
In a statement, she elaborated: "When you adjust the new catch limit to account for overfishing and rampant illegal fishing by some countries and add in ICCAT's poor enforcement and compliance record, the prospects for the recovery for the once abundant Atlantic bluefin are dismal."
Their survival may hang on meetings in March when the Committee on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will consider a ban on trade in bluefins.
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