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Indian Ocean Sees Smallest Tuna Catch in 11 Years

Date: 28-Aug-07
Country: MAURITIUS

"The total catches recorded ... during the first four months
of 2007 is estimated at 75,000 tonnes, the lowest catch reported
for that period since 1996," the multinational Indian Ocean Tuna
Commission (IOTC) said in a report seen by Reuters on Monday.

"This represents a decrease of 36 percent over the catches
reported for the same period of the previous year."

In the past, higher sea surface temperatures blamed on
global warming have driven tuna deeper, out of reach of nets.
But higher catches over the last four years may also have cut
the ocean's yellowfin and skipjack tuna numbers, experts say.

"The bigger question is whether this decline is a
consequence of environmental conditions, or whether somehow the
catches of the past few years have affected the population
levels," IOTC head Alejandro Anganuzzi said by telephone.

"Probably in a year or two we will have all the data for our
computer modelling to assess the current situation."

Joel Bruneau, general manager at a tuna processing company
owned by Ireland Blyth Limited said catches had begun
to recover since April, when prices for yellowfin tuna in the
Seychelles were up 50 percent on the levels of a year earlier.

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