EU Must Ensure The Future Of Endangered Species

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
27 October 2010, at 1:00am

EU - In light of todays EU Council of Fisheries Ministers meeting, Oceana strongly urges increased protection for endangered bluefin tuna, swordfish and sharks, and reminds the EU of its commitment to restore fish stocks to the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY).

The Ministers will be discussing the EU position for the upcoming meeting of the Contracting Parties to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

“ICCAT provides the EU with a unique opportunity to show there’s a real political will to restore depleted fish stocks,” states Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.

“Given the critical status of bluefin tuna, and the lack of management measures for Mediterranean swordfish and sharks, the situation can no longer be ignored by the EU, which has been the greatest beneficiary of their exploitation and is partly responsible for the current conditions.”

Bluefin tuna, Mediterranean swordfish, threatened thresher and hammerhead sharks are among those species exploited by EU fleet whose fate lies in the hands of ICCAT.

“While a lot of focus should be on the urgent need to recover endangered bluefin tuna, we cannot ignore the state of other overexploited ICCAT species. Without urgent action, Mediterranean swordfish will be well on its way to facing the same fate”, added Mr Pastor.

Bluefin tuna

Bluefin tuna stocks have been overexploited by decades of mismanagement and illegal fishing. Current industrial fleet overcapacity undermines the 2010 TAC (Total Allowable Catches). Additionally, the 2010 TAC doesn’t guarantee the recovery of the species by MSY within a reasonable time period.

Oceana urges the EU to promote:

  • a total closure of industrial fishing activity;
  • marine reserves in Mediterranean bluefin tuna spawning areas; and
  • the establishment of a TAC that fully ensures recovery of the species.

Mediterranean swordfish

Mediterranean swordfish, also an overexploited stock, is fished by Mediterranean countries without any controls or management measures. More than 8,000 vessels including illegal driftnets fleets are targeting this species and misreporting a substantial quantity of their catch.

Oceana urges the EU to propose a Mediterranean swordfish management plan at ICCAT that will ensure the recovery of the stock through the following measures:

  • the reduction of fleet overcapacity;
  • the establishment of a catch limits, minimum landing sizes amongst others; and
  • the introduction of specific measures tackling the illegal use of driftnets.