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UN marks first World Tuna Day with calls to conserve it

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations marked the first World Tuna Day on Tuesday with calls to conserve one of the globe’s most popular fish to be caught and eaten.

General Assembly President Peter Thomson said that tuna species, which are highly migratory, account for 20 percent of the value of all fish caught and over 8 percent of all internationally traded seafood.

He noted that nearly two-thirds of the tuna found in restaurants and supermarkets around the world comes from the Pacific Ocean.

“Regrettably, with the decline in the health of the oceans, the fish stocks including tuna face growing threats and an uncertain future,” the former Fijian ambassador said in a statement.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric called the tuna trade “a significant contributor to the global economy,” saying that more than 80 countries have tuna fisheries and that thousands of tuna fishing vessels operate in all the oceans.

“However, increasing threats resulting from human activities, such as overfishing, and the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification … impact the conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks,” he said.

Dujarric urged people everywhere to “commit to protecting our precious tuna resources and their surrounding ecosystems and using these resources sustainably for generations to come.”

In December, the General Assembly established May 2 as World Tuna Day to reinforce its importance to nations around the globe.

Thomson, the assembly president, called it “an important step in recognizing the critical role of tuna to sustainable development, food security, economic opportunity, and livelihoods of people around the world.”

Both Thomson and Dujarric said the day also highlights the importance of the Ocean Conference to be held at U.N. headquarters June 5-9 to support the U.N. goal for 2030 to conserve and sustainably use the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources.

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