Tuna fishermen off the New Zealand West Coast are at risk of extinction after being forced to move out of their traditional catch locations due to climate change, a New Zealand Government report found.
In a draft report released on Monday, the government said New Zealand had the highest tuna catch rates in the world, with more than 6 million tonnes of fish and their shells annually harvested off the country’s shores.
The report said this trend was likely to continue because of the warming and changing weather patterns in the tropics.
The Government’s proposed strategy to protect the species from climate change and pollution would involve reducing the amount of land taken for tuna fishing and restoring traditional catch sites, including on the coast.
The New Zealand Department of Conservation and Environment said in a statement the report was “very encouraging” and highlighted the importance of ensuring that the country retains the resources necessary to maintain the biodiversity of the West Coast and its fisheries.
The Department said in the report that New Zealand already has a population of more than 70 million, but that it was not clear whether the current population of 4.3 million would continue to meet the need for more sustainable fisheries.
Tuna is considered a delicacy in many Asian countries, including China, India and Indonesia.