Conservationists meet to avert feared tuna extinction

TOKYO, Jan 22, 2007 (AFP) – International tuna conservation bodies Monday opened their first joint meeting to look at ways to save the animals from overfishing, which environmentalists fear is driving them to extinction. The five-day meeting in the western Japanese city of Kobe will look at ways to share information among regions to monitor tuna numbers and control illegal fishing vessels, officials said.

“Our goal should be to achieve sustainable use of tuna resources for the future and to prove both domestically and internationally that maintaining tuna fishing is possible,” Toshiro Shirasu, the head of Japan’s Fisheries Agency, said in opening remarks.

Two international fishing industry groups have called on the meeting to declare a moratorium on the use of any additional large tuna vessels to stop the stocks from diminishing further.

The meeting brings together five tuna conservation bodies that cover different regions, including the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean.

Representatives of 60 countries or areas are taking part, officials said.

The meeting is expected to adopt an action plan on Friday to cooperate on the conservation and management of tuna stocks, said Takaaki Sakam