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Pacific News Minute: Global Estimate Puts Value of Tuna at More than 42 Billion Per Year

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Everybody knows that tuna is big business, especially in the Pacific, but, until this week, nobody knew exactly how big.  Now a report commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trust puts the annual estimate at more than 42 billion dollars.  We have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

To put that in perspective, 42 billion dollars is larger than the gross domestic product of one hundred five countries.  In a statement accompanying the release of the report, Amanda Nickson, Pew's Director of Global Tuna Conservation said,  "Given the economic gains for coastal economies... tuna is an asset that every government should make every effort to protect."

Instead, she said that most of the tuna industry pays "lip service" to better management.  Fishermen earn 12 of the 42 billion...processors, wholesalers, retailers and restaurants get the rest.

Of the seven most important species ...skipjack...the kind most often found in cans and bags at the grocery store, is far and away the most valuable by volume.  Pacific Blue fin is the most valuable per pound and the most vulnerable to overfishing.  According to Pew, historic stocks of pacific blue fin had been depleted to less than 3% of historic levels by 2014.

By region the Pacific produces more than half the world wide total, and the report highlights looming disputes as less affluent players, particularly islands in the Pacific, demand a bigger share which is exactly what's behind the current impasse as US flag Tuna Boats and 17 island countries argue over a new Tuna Treaty.  Again, Pew's Amanda Nickson: "We don't want to see tuna stocks depleting because the countries involved can't agree on sensible management."

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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