New measures for the sustainability of Blue fin Tuna and Marlin
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) 18th annual meeting, held in Agadir, Morocco, from 12 to 19 November 2012, has concluded its works, adopting, among others, measures for the sustainability of Blue fin Tuna and Marlin.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki welcomed the decisions on sustainability of fisheries: "Adopted conservation measures for the sustainability of Bluefin Tuna and Marlins are in line with scientific advice. The recovery plan for Eastern Bluefin tuna has been reviewed and strengthened, setting the Total Allowable Catches at 13.400 tons per year as of 2013. Moreover, a better management and control system for members of ICCAT was adopted. However, I regret that ICCAT was not successful in its decisions over a better protection of sharks, as long as measures tabled by the EU for the sustainability of stocks of Shortfin Mako and Portbeagle were not supported."
More specifically, ICCAT:
• Reviewed and strengthened the recovery plan for Eastern Bluefin tuna. Fully in line with scientific advice, the TACs (Total Allowable Catches) were set at 13.400 tons per year as of 2013. This decision presents a slight increase compared to 2012 and compensates the efforts undertaken by the EU fishermen whilst making sure that recovery of Bluefin tuna is sustained.
• Set a TAC for Western Bluefin tuna at the level recommended by scientific advice, i.e. 1.750 tons for 2013 whilst launching a process to review the existing rebuilding plan.
• Set TACs addressing all types of fishing mortality for Blue and White Marlins at 1.985 tons and 355 tons respectively per year, as recommended by scientists. The EU share of 480 tons will allow accommodating the needs of the different types of Marlin fisheries within the EU, including artisanal fisheries.
• On sharks the EU’s proposal to limit catches of Shortfin Mako to current levels as recommended by scientific advice as well as the proposal for a ban on the retention of Porbeagle already tabled last year did not find support. However, the EU’s proposal to improve compliance with existing shark measures was adopted. In this context, the Commission welcomes the process to amend the ICCAT Convention. This will allow better defining the ICCAT role in regard to sharks, and thus enhancing sharks protection in the long term.
• Substantial progress could be achieved with regard to the monitoring and control system of ICCAT. The EU proposal for minimum standard for port inspection was adopted. The implementation of the electronic Bluefin tuna catch documentation scheme will start on 16 May 2013. A process to put in place catch documentation schemes for other tuna species in the near future was launched. All this is enhancing ICCAT’s capacity to fight IUU (Illegal Unreported Unregulated) fishing.
In regard with compliance with ICCAT rules, the performance by Contracting Parties continues to improve. The European Union has managed to secure its compliance status achieved last year.
The European Commission also welcomes the efforts undertaken by the scientific committee to follow up on the science recommendations adopted last year. Presentation of scientific recommendations has been harmonized and further thinking of the standardization and the quantification of uncertainties has been launched. We are also looking forward to the adoption of a research strategy as announced by the Scientific Committee for the coming year.