EU - It was good news for some tuna stocks this week as the 24th International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting came to a close in Malta. The Commission agreed on reducing catches of bigeye tuna and the introduction of the electronic catch documentation system from May 2016 for bluefin tuna.
The Pew Charitable Trusts welcomed the outcome for Atlantic bluefin tuna. The organisation's senior officer of international ocean policy, Paulus Tak, commented: “The outlook for Atlantic bluefin tuna is much improved thanks to a fundamental shift in ICCAT’s philosophy and approach to fisheries management.”
“We welcome the commitment made by Commission members to develop, test, and ultimately establish a long-term vision and protocol for bluefin fishing in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. It’s a big win. There is now a concrete commitment that fishery managers will develop a system to use the best-available science to figure out how to take these tuna from recovering to fully recovered, and maintain that stability for generations.”
Other outcomes of the meeting included a measure to reduce the mortality of bigeye tuna juveniles and a move towards developing harvest control rules and a management strategy evaluation for Northern Albacore, allowing ICCAT to apply modern concepts of fisheries management.
Commenting on the outcomes of the meeting, the WWF said that it applauds the parties for continuing to follow scientific advice and maintaining the bluefin tuna recovery plan but expressed concern over the lack of traceability measures which would help stop illegal fishing.
“We are very pleased that no modification was made to the Mediterranean bluefin tuna recovery plan. But we regret that no decision to properly trace the fish from the boat to the market was taken, especially at the farming level. Without a good traceability system we cannot ensure the full recovery of the species," said Raul Garcia, Fisheries Officer at WWF.
WWF also noted that non of its requests regarding bluefin tuna loopholes at the farming level control were considered and that not enough action was taken to help recover bigeye tuna in the Atlantic.
No Protection for Swordfish
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Karmenu Vella, EU commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries had called for urgent measures to recover Mediterranean swordfish.
Mr Vella noted that the stock has fallen to a third of its biomass since the 1980's due to lack of management.
Despite these concerns, the member parties failed to adopt any immediate management plan for the species.
Instead, a stock assessment is expected to take place in 2016 so as to be able to work towards more efficient conservation measures next year.
Lasse Gustavsson, executive director for Oceana in Europe, said that ICCAT has failed to address the overfishing of Mediterranean swordfish. "If action is not taken, the Eastern bluefin tuna crisis could replicate again with this species,” Mr Gustavsson commented.