STAFF REPORTER THE Palma Aquarium has launched a signature-collection campaign to force the government to declare a bluefin tuna breeding sanctuary in waters south of the Balearic Islands.

A spokesman for the Aquarium located at Can Pastilla, said yesterday that its aim is to collect 500'000 signatures which will be the threshold for a legal appeal to be made.

The timing of the campaign coincides with the third anniversary of the opening of the Aquarium and today's celebrations of International Ocean Day.
Bluefin tuna is the most hunted and commercialised species of fish in the world and providing them a safe haven in traditional breeding grounds such as those off the Balearics would help their numbers recover, said the spokesman. The Aquarium pointed out that if measures are not taken urgently to protect the species, bluefin tuna could be extinct within as little as five years.

More than 80 percent of the fish netted in international waters are sold to Japan. The bluefin tuna can't reproduce if they are forced into an enclosed space which is why the idea of “fish farming” the species would not be successful, said the Aquarium spokesman.

The only solution, he said, is to provide the tuna with protected breeding grounds. Central Government recently rejected the proposal put forward by the Balearic government because of Spain's commitment to non-protectionism in European fishing practices.