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News :: ICCAT supports continued recovery of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna and strengthens its commitment to science

ICCAT supports continued recovery of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna and strengthens its commitment to science

(26/11/2013) At its 23rd Regular Meeting, held in Cape Town, South Africa, on 18-25th November, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) reconfirmed its commitment to following the best available science and improving its scientific knowledge base.

With regard to stocks, final decisions strictly followed scientific advice with roll overs for North and South Atlantic Swordfish and Albacore and also East and West Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, had earlier addressed the Commission to welcome the continued recovery of Bluefin Tuna but to caution that much work still needed to be done.

ICCAT also strengthened its commitment to improving scientific knowledge across a number of different areas. Based on European Union proposals, the Commission passed measures to secure better harmonisation of the presentation of scientific advice and a better description of uncertainties – both crucial for management decisions. A new standing group will be created between scientists and fisheries managers to improve mutual understanding whilst a training fund will also be set up to allow scientists from developing countries to be better included in scientific works. An EU proposal on better data from Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) was also adopted.

There was however less progress on the issue of sharks and bycatch despite agreement on an EU proposal to take samples of dead sharks for scientific purposes and on additional measures for sea turtles. ICCAT members did not agree to a proposed retention ban on porbeagle and failed to limit catches of shortfin mako in the Atlantic Ocean despite the EU continuing to push for the protection of these vulnerable shark species, in line its own recently adopted rules

With regard to control and enforcement measures, ICCAT adopted a proposal to use International Maritime Organisation numbers as Unique Vessel Identifiers, agreed on improved rules on chartering, and supported a higher vessel monitoring system (VMS) polling rate.

The next ICCAT chair was also decided with Contracting Parties unanimously supporting the appointment of Mr Stefaan Depypere, Head of the EU Delegation to ICCAT and Director in the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission, as chair for the next two years.


ICCAT is an inter-governmental fishery organisation responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean composed of 47 members. The EU is a member and the European Commission negotiates on behalf of the EU at ICCAT.