"10 years ago we were talking about the collapse of bluefin tuna. Thanks to the right measures, reinforced international cooperation, and efforts by all stakeholders, we are now managing a sustainable stock. But a sustainable fishery means also constant surveillance, to ensure everybody plays by the rules and takes his deserved share, now and in the next years." said Karmenu Vella , Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
Based on previous experience, a strict control and inspection programme has again been put in place. To ensure high control standards, this programme sets concrete control priorities and benchmarks. It involves a significant deployment of inspectors, patrol vessels and aircrafts coordinated by the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) and the Member States concerned. An additional patrol vessel will be chartered and deployed by EFCA in 2018. The European Commission also monitors catches and analyses Vessel Monitoring System data (a satellite based control system) on a constant basis to ensure that all rules, and particularly the individual vessels' quotas, are fully respected.
In the Mediterranean and the Eastern Atlantic, the period 26 May to 24 June marks the season where large vessels, purse seiners, are allowed to fish for bluefin tuna. Together with traps, purses seiners account by far for the biggest part of the EU quota (71 %). As in previous years, particular attention is given to the control of those gears that catch the fish alive for farming purposes. This year the number of vessels authorized to fish bluefin tuna is 1,088 vessels (of which, 58 purse-seiners) and 12 traps and the EU quota for 2018 has been set at 15,850 tonnes. The Member States actively involved in the bluefin tuna fishery are Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Malta and Cyprus.
The bluefin tuna fishery is regulated by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) where the EU is a contracting party. In 2006, ICCAT adopted a multi-annual recovery plan for Bluefin tuna, 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 and to improve the control of bluefin tuna caught alive for farming purposes by laying down detailed rules for the application of new technologies.
In close collaboration with the EFCA, Member States and other ICCAT Contracting Parties, all necessary measures are being taken to ensure full compliance with the new provisions and ultimately the success of the recovery plan and long-term sustainability of the stock.