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Wildlife Trade Specialists

Northern bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus © Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF

other aquatic species Working towards traceability and sustainability throughout marine trade

Northern bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus © Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF

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maintaining healthy marine populations

As is the case with other areas of wildlife trade, a lack of effective regulation, coupled with high levels of illicit activity, is resulting in catastrophic declines in wild populations of aquatic species worldwide.

Traceability throughout marine and fish trade, appropriate restrictions on destructive harvesting techniques and scientifically-supported quotas would help make significant inroads into reversing the devastating over-exploitation our seas and oceans are currently facing.

65% of abalone

harvested from South African fisheries is done so illegally

those most under threat

Unsustainable fishing practices and a lack of understanding about which species and what volume of marine species are being traded are two of the largest contributor to the crisis facing our oceans.

Aside from extensively-fished species of sharks and rays, Southern Bluefin Tuna Thunnus maccoyii and South African Abalone Haliotis midae are two other marine species whose unsustainable or illegal trade are could soon drive wild populations towards critical levels. In addition to species declines and loss of biodiversity, unsustainable marine trade is wrecking the future livelihoods of many of those who depend on it.

Dried abalone Haliotis midae for sale in Hong Kong where it is widely consumed as a delicacy © Wilson Lau / TRAFFIC

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Markus Bergener, Senior Programme Officer for TRAFFIC

It is absolutely essential that we implement robust traceability systems throughout trade chains to ensure trade maintains healthy fish populations worldwide

Markus Bergener, Senior Programme Officer for TRAFFIC

priority species

working towards sustainable fisheries

bluefin tuna

Bluefin Tuna Thunnus spp. are the largest of the tuna family, living up to 40 years, able to dive 40,000 feet and migrating across the world's oceans. 

Bluefin Tuna meat is revered as a delicacy in sushi and sashimi restaurants in Japan, with a recent TRAFFIC report finding evidence of consumption in Shanghai and Beijing also. In addition to combating the threats posed by illegal fishing, we're working to ensure countries and territories importing or catching Bluefin Tuna are governed by robust restrictions to avoid this currently Endangered species moving any further towards extinction.

reports on tuna

Frozen tunas for auction at the Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan © Michel Gunther / WWF

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abalone

Abalone Haliotis spp. is a sea snail that lives in shallow water, is slow moving, slow growing and late to reproduce, thus making it highly vulnerable to overexploitation.

The last few years have seen a significant spike in illegal harvesting, particularly of South African Abalone, to satisfy demand from Asian markets. Recent TRAFFIC reports have found that the majority of abalone harvesting in South Africa is illegal, and facilitated by criminal syndicates of Chinese origin who in many cases are paying desperate local poachers in methamphetamine.

reports on abalone

Live abalone Haliotis midae © Adelle Roux

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eels

Eels, including European Eels Anguilla anguilla and Shortfin Eels Aguilla bicolor, are consumed and traded in significant volumes with regular discrepancies in global import/export data.

The most prominent eel consumer markets are in Asia, particularly in mainland China, Hong Kong and Japan. Historically, eel farming and trade in East Asia involved native species, but growing scarcity has led to significant imports of European and American varieties. The global eel supply chain has been tainted by criminal involvement, with seizures of illegal live shipments occurring regularly. The European Eel has undergone an estimated decline of between 90–95% according to the IUCN Red List™, which reinforces the need for traceability and legality systems throughout trade chains.

reports on eels

An eel farm in Japan © V. Crook / TRAFFIC

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sturgeon caviar

All 27 sturgeon species are listed in IUCN’s Red List, 16 of which are Critically Endangered.

Unsustainable demand for wild-sourced caviar, particularly in major markets such as China, France, Germany, Japan, the Russian Federation, and the USA, are driving dangerous population declines. Illegal fishing and an inadequate caviar labelling system are contributing factors to illegal and unsustainable trade.

reports on caviar

related news , projects and reports to aquatic species

traceability, legality and sustainability is essential to maintaining healthy marine and fish populations. Explore our latest action working towards solutions

related reports to AQUATIC SPECIES

Explore TRAFFIC reports on marine and fish trade and the application of traceability frameworks.

Visit our resource library for the full TRAFFIC publication archive.

Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange
Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange

The African and European Union Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange's are online tools developed to facilitate information exchange and international co-operation between law enforcement agencies.

EU / Africa TWIX

Global Shark and Ray Initiative
Global Shark and Ray Initiative

The goal of the GSRI is that by 2025, the conservation status of the world’s sharks and rays has improved–declines have been halted, extinctions have been prevented, and commitments to their conservation have increased globally.

GSRI