Atlantic bluefin tuna (ABFT) (Thunnus thynnus) is both an iconic sport fish, with a history of competitive fishing in the Atlantic region (including the largest individual ever caught, in Auld’s Cove, Nova Scotia), and the target of a significant commercial fishery throughout much of its range. The latter is partly driven by the fact that the species is highly valued in the sushi and sashimi markets, but it also has wider markets. The combination of a recreational and large scale industrial fishery is an unusual, if not unique, challenge with respect to the choice of management approaches.
We investigate how high seas closure will affect the availability of commonly consumed food fish in 46 fish reliant, and/or low income countries. Domestic consumption of straddling fish species (fish that would be affected by high seas closure) occurred in 54% of the assessed countries. The majority (70%) of countries were projected to experience net catch gains following high seas closure. However, countries with projected catch gains and that also consumed the straddling fish species domestically made up only 37% of the assessed countries. In contrast, much fewer countries (25%) were projected to incur net losses from high seas closure, and of these, straddling species were used domestically in less than half (45%) of the countries. Our findings suggest that, given the current consumption patterns of straddling species, high seas closure may only directly benefit the supply of domestically consumed food fish in a small number of fish reliant and/or low income countries.