JOHANNESBURG — Illegal fishing off Africa - often by ships from wealthy nations like South Korea - costs the continent millions of dollars a year, with poor West African nations among the hardest hit.
Activists and environmental organizations are calling for new measures to prevent illegal fishing, including steps to make vessels - and tuna fish - more traceable, at a weeklong meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, which began Monday in Cape Town.
A single tuna fish can sell for thousands of dollars - one bluefin tuna reportedly sold for $1.76 million at auction this year - and rising demand in Japan, which consumes 80 percent of the world catch, has put world tuna stocks under severe pressure, according to Elizabeth Wilson of the Pew Charitable Trusts' environmental wing.
Wilson said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that fishing quotas in the Atlantic designed to help the devastated tuna stock recover were meaningless without strong measures to prevent widespread illegal fishing. Members of the Pew Charitable Trusts were attending the meeting as observers.
"If quotas are set and they're not adhered to, they do no good at all," Wilson said.