Aquaculture for all

Oceana says ICCAT Condemned Future of Bluefin

EU - The ICCAT meeting resulted in a disastrous catch limit for bluefin tuna today that ignores scientific advice, says marine conservation group, Oceana.

Oceana, who called for a closure of the fishery, is dismayed with this decision that threatens the future of bluefin tuna to satisfy the fishing industry’s short-term interests.

Despite strong initial proposals, the debate on sharks also ended with very limited management measures.

Joe Borg, the European Union Fisheries Commissioner, qualified the meeting as the last chance for the bluefin tuna fishery. For more than a week, the future of bluefin tuna and other pelagic species was negotiated among countries with interests in Atlantic fisheries. Fisheries management measures for the Eastern stock of bluefin tuna, overfished and facing serious risk of collapse, were discussed and debated throughout the week, but ended with a disastrous agreement.

During the meeting, ICCAT members had the possibility of saving bluefin tuna. Proposals for a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of less than 15,000 tons, in line with scientific advice, were tabled by a group of delegations. However, after much debate, Parties agreed an unsustainable TAC of 22,000 t for 2009, satisfying the industry’s short term economic interests. Oceana, the international marine conservation organization, has called for the closure of this fishery until recovery of the stock is scientifically assessed.

Xavier Pastor, Executive Director for Oceana in Europe, declared: "ICCAT’s credibility has been destroyed by the negotiating countries who opposed responsible management measures for bluefin tuna. Instead of preserving the bluefin tuna stock from collapse, they gave in to the fishing industry’s short-term economic interests. With this decision, we can only wait for the disappearance of bluefin tuna."