This year, for the first time since the establishment of the Bluefin tuna recovery plan in 2006, there is a marked increase in the quota that the European Union is allowed to fish (over 9,372 tonnes). This is due to the progressive recovery of the stock, as demonstrated by scientific evidence, which led to an increase of 20% of the overall quota for Bluefin tuna.
European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: "Bluefin tuna, an emblematic stock nearing collapse, is back to life. For the first time in almost a decade, our fishermen can benefit with an increased quota. Sustainability and good management pay off. We must continue on this route."
To sustain this recovery, the EU has reiterated its commitment to fully implement the international control measures for the Bluefin tuna fishery. Also, a strict control and inspection programme has been put in place to avoid overfishing, coordinated by the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) and the Member States concerned.
These high control standards require that a significant number of inspectors, patrol vessels and aircrafts are deployed during the entire year. Increased control activities take place during the purse seine fishing season and the caging period of the fish caught alive by purse seiners and traps. For the latter, strict procedures are followed to verify the quantities of fish put in cages for farming purposes.
The European Commission also monitors catches on a constant basis, including through a a satellite-based control system called Vessel Monitoring System. This is to ensure that all rules, and particularly the individual vessels' quotas, are fully respected.
The Bluefin tuna fishery is regulated by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) where the EU and member states are members. The close collaboration with EFCA, Member States and other ICCAT Contracting Parties, means that all necessary measures are being taken to support the stock's recovery plan and its long term sustainability.
The Member States actively involved in the Bluefin tuna fishery are Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Malta, and Cyprus. The 8 countries share the EU quota, with Spain and France having the largest shares.
In 2006, ICCAT adopted a 15-year recovery plan for Bluefin tuna in the East Atlantic and Mediterranean which has been regularly modified based on stock assessment, control experiences and new technologies.
In 2010, 2012 and 2014 substantial measures have been introduced to enforce the sustainable management of the stock. At its last annual meeting in November 2014, ICCAT endorsed a 20% annual increase of the Bluefin tuna (BFT) Total allowable catch (TAC) over the next three years. As a result, the EU quota increased from 7,938.65 t in 2014 to 9,372.92 in 2015 (20%).