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EU Urged to Support a Freeze on Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Quotas

20 November 2013

EU - As the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) opens its 23rd regular annual meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, WWF calls upon the European Commission to work with other delegations to ensure that maximum efforts are made to support the conservation of bluefin tuna and sharks.

In 2013 the EU adopted a new Common Fisheries Policy that enshrines adherence to the scientific management of stock. The 2013 meeting of ICCAT offers a golden opportunity to show radical observance of this principle and the European Commission must resist the attempts of some Member States to increase quotas before the long-term recovery of certain stocks are assured.

Great progress was made last year on the East Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna stock when decision makers agreed for the first time on an annual quota based on science. Current scientific advice is based on the same assessment carried out in 2012, as no new stock assessment was carried out this year. For this reason the ICCAT Scientific Committee (SCRS) advises in 2013 against any substantial change in the current quota and specifically notes that maintaining catches at the levels agreed last year (13,400 tons) will likely allow the stock to fully recover by 2022.

Dr Sergi Tudela, Head of the Mediterranean Fisheries Programme at WWF, stated: “Any irresponsible increase this year in bluefin tuna quotas for the East Atlantic and the Mediterranean by the ICCAT could jeopardize the timely recovery of the species. WWF calls on ICCAT delegates not to increase the tuna quota until it is based on the results of a new scientific assessment – no increase in quotas can be done against science”.

After years of talks and ever mounting pressure from global citizens against this cruel practice, a proposal for an effective shark finning ban will finally be discussed this year in ICCAT, sponsored by the major fishing nations. WWF strongly calls on ICCAT parties to support it, after momentum was reached this year with the prohibition of this practice by EU.

TheFishSite News Desk

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