Highly migratory species such as tunas and sharks are important species for Canadas fishing industry, said the Honourable Gail Shea, Acting Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. The measures agreed to by the Commission this week will ensure the conservation of the fish stocks while continuing to provide economic opportunities for our fishermen in Atlantic Canada who have made significant sacrifices over the years to ensure their fisheries remain sustainable.
Of particular significance for Canada, Commission Members agreed to a roll-over of the science-based total allowable catch for the Western Atlantic bluefin tuna stock (1,750 tonnes) for one year, which will maintain the economic opportunities for Canadian fishermen while allowing the important stock to continue to rebuild. Canadas share will be approximately 498 tonnes. In line with scientific advice, a total allowable catch for the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stock was set at 13,500 tonnes for 2013.
The Commission also agreed to establish a working group of fisheries managers and scientists to find ways to improve how they work together and to enhance the management and scientific advice framework for Western Atlantic bluefin tuna. This work is expected to guide the next stock assessment for Western Atlantic bluefin tuna scheduled for 2015.
Canada is pleased that Commission Members also committed to stronger measures for port inspections, further building on efforts to enhance enforcement activities and combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
The conservation of shark species was another important issue tackled by Commission members at this years meeting. Unfortunately, Members could not agree on new measures to effectively protect porbeagle sharks, despite constructive efforts by Canada and the European Union. Canada will continue to work with members of the Commission to advance practical solutions that effectively protect porbeagle sharks while allowing sustainable fisheries like Canadas to continue.
Finally, Members agreed to take a targeted approach to modernizing the Commissions Convention.
Canada is a founding Contracting Party of the Commission and was among the 48 member countries participating in the 18th Special Meeting in Agadir, Morocco from 12-19 November 2012. Northwest Atlantic swordfish and bluefin tuna fisheries managed by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas generate approximately $25 million in economic benefits for approximately 750 licenced fishermen in Atlantic Canada.
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