Recovery Plan Agreed for Mediterranean Swordfish

22 November 2016, at 12:00am

EU - The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has finalised its one-week long negotiations between 51 countries and has agreed on a recovery plan for Mediterranean swordfish, which has been overfished for over 30 years.

Oceana welcomes long-overdue measures to rebuild the depleted and overfished stock, but the plan falls behind expectations

The plan includes a modest reduction of catches and the adoption of a quota system, enforced by monitoring and control measures to prevent illegal fishing and improve transparency in the swordfish fishery management and trade.

However, the level in catch reduction agreed is much lower than what scientists had advised and could still put this stock at risk.

“The plan today comes over a decade too late. Throughout this time, Oceana has been sounding the alarm for a much-needed recovery plan for Mediterranean swordfish”, said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director for Oceana in Europe.

“We welcome this paradigm shift for Mediterranean swordfish and for Mediterranean stocks in general, which are over 90 per cent overfished. But, on World Fisheries Day, we would have hoped for a stronger recovery plan. Sadly, the plan is too weak, too far from scientific advice and still puts the stock at risk”.

EU Fisheries Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, said: "I welcome that at its 50th anniversary the second performance review recognises ICCAT's high performance. This means that our efforts to improve international fisheries governance are paying off. I am also very pleased that all Mediterranean countries have agreed to address the dire situation of Mediterranean swordfish by accepting to limit and reduce their catches gradually over 5 years in combination with a comprehensive package of other measures. Bringing back this emblematic species to sustainable levels will benefit many fishermen, including the small scale fleets."

The plan was proposed by the EU, which has 75 per cent of Mediterranean swordfish catches. It includes a total allowable catch (TAC) of 10,500 tonnes for 2017 and then a 15 per cent reduction in catches between 2018-2022. The individual TAC for the Mediterranean Contracting Parties will be agreed in early 2017.