Results from national representative survey show strong public support for bluefin tuna spawning ground sanctuaries in advance of international meeting on management measures for this species.
In order to understand public awareness of the status of bluefin tuna and support for bluefin tuna conservation measures, Pew Environment Group commissioned Edge Research to place five questions on national omnibus surveys conducted in France and Spain. The surveys were conducted using nationally representative research panels and reached 2000 adults (1000 per country) from November 5 to 10, 2010.
KEY FINDINGS INCLUDE:
NEAR-UNANIMOUS SUPPORT FOR BLUEFIN TUNA CONSERVATION
A majority of people in Spain (76%) and nearly all in France (95%) have heard at least some information about bluefin tuna and threats to the survival of this species. Willingness to support conservation measures is solid and there is almost no opposition to any of the proposals tested. Support for tuna conservation measures among those who have heard about the plight of bluefin is near unanimous.
BLUEFIN TUNA SPAWNING GROUND SANCTUARIES
Respondents were asked their support for permanently closing bluefin spawning grounds in the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Mexico to certain types of fishing in order to prevent mature bluefin from being caught before reproducing. Overall 94% of Spanish and 96% of French respondents support closing bluefin tuna spawning grounds to fishing. Strong support for spawning ground closures is at more than 75% in each country.
SUSPENSION OF THE FISHERY
Support is also very high for a moratorium on bluefin tuna fishing. When asked if fishing for bluefin should be suspended until populations have recovered and new management rules are put in place, 94% of respondents in Spain and 92% of respondents in France favor this action.
ICCAT COUNTRIES MUST ACT
Respondents were told that France, Spain, Italy will meet with the other countries that are party to the international agreement on tuna fishing in November and asked their opinion on what position these countries should take on bluefin tuna conservation. Nearly all survey respondents (95% in Spain; 92% in France) said that France, Spain and Italy should agree to follow strong conservation measures for bluefin tuna informed by scientific advice.
‘AN OBLIGATION TO PROTECT THIS FISH'
Underlying this strong support for conservation is the point of view that people have an obligation to protect this fish, even if doing so causes some harm to the economy. Nine-of-ten (90%) of respondents in Spain and 78% of respondents in France agree with the statement, “whether we eat bluefin tuna or not, the people of France, Spain and Italy cannot allow our governments to ignore scientific advice and fish this species to extinction.” This compares to only 4% of Spanish and 10% of French respondents who have the view, “the commercial trade in bluefin tuna is too important to our country. In these difficult economic times we cannot afford to fish less.”