Decisions on Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna follows scientific advice: WWF applauds –

Decisions on Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna follows scientific advice: WWF applauds Published:  20 November, 2012

WWF has congratulated decision makers from the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) for taking scientific advice and not increasing East Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna quotas to unsustainable levels.

At the closing of the 18th Special Meeting of ICCAT the 48 contracting parties decided to follow advice provided by the scientific committee and agree on annual fishing quotas of 13,500 t from 2013.

WWF has a decade long involvement in the fight to avoid the collapse of this species. Collaboration with scientists, decision-makers and the fishing industry has resulted in turning what seemed to be an impending tide.

The assessment of the East Atlantic and Mediterranean stock of bluefin tuna by the scientific committee, prior to the ICCAT meeting, detected, for the first time in the last decade, signs of a population increase.

“Such results have obviously driven interests and requests for quota increase,” added Tudela.

Scientists, however, warned that the speed and extent of the detected recovery were unknown. They recommended a total catch within the range of 12,900 t to 13,500 t annually to ensure the stock could continue its recovery.

“The 2012 meeting was a real test of the commitment of ICCAT members on the conservation of the bluefin tuna. We are pleased that respect for science has finally been imposed, with the EU at the forefront, in the fight against short term benefits by setting unsustainable fishing levels.”

 WWF said unfortunately ICCAT had not sufficiently addressed the issues of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in the Mediterranean.

ICCAT examined cases submitted by WWF, which included well-documented irregular fishing and farming activities in Tunisia this year and large-scale unreported trade to Japan through Panama during the last 10 years, yet WWF maintained no proactive decisions were made about these issues.

“We are frustrated about the apparent inability of the ICCAT to really ensure a real investigation of the reported allegations.

 “WWF will continue to deepen its efforts to expose environmental crime in this iconic fishery,” Tudela concluded.