ICCAT: bluefin tuna recovery on track but illegal fishing still to be tackled, swordfish at risk, says WWF
As the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) closes its 24th regular meeting today in St Julian's, Malta, WWF applauds the contracting parties for continuing to follow scientific advice and maintain the Bluefin tuna recovery plan unchanged. Nevertheless, WWF continues to express concern over the lack of traceability for this species, which prevents the eradication of illegal fishing. The conservation organisation also raises an urgent call to improve the situation of the Mediterranean swordfish as no measures to help its recovery were agreed upon.
“We are very pleased that no modification was made to the Mediterranean Bluefin tuna recovery plan. But we regret that no decision to properly trace the fish from the boat to the market was taken, especially at the farming level. Without a good traceability system we cannot ensure the full recovery of the species", said Raul Garcia, Fisheries Officer at WWF. "But our biggest concern now is the Mediterranean swordfish.
We have been asking for new management measures for too many years without seeing results. The situation is now critical and if no improvement is made in the short term, we might arrive at the situation that Bluefin tuna was in a few years ago, added Raul Garcia.”
Regarding bluefin tuna, none of WWF requests regarding loopholes at the farming level control were considered. The use of stereoscopic cameras when bluefin tunas enter the fattening farms is a viable technology which could help to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing of the species. However, ICCAT members apply different measurement methods, which don’t allow a strong reporting system. WWF is concerned that ICCAT Contracting Parties didn’t adopt a standardized methodology for the use of stereoscopic cameras.
The Mediterranean swordfish stock remains the biggest concern for WWF this year. Whereas WWF has asked ICCAT to establish an ambitious recovery plan, no measure was taken. WWF urges the EU and all ICCAT contracting parties to ensure the best data is provided in order to allow scientists to conduct a robust stock assessment and to put clear management recommendations on the table in 2016.
Also WWF regrets ICCAT lack of action to ensure sustainable management of the Atlantic blue shark. without the adoption of any kind of catch limits or other management measures, the most important shark fishery remains unmanaged.
WWF welcomes the decision taken by ICCAT to develop harvest strategies and rules to control catches for all fleets regulated by ICCAT. This first step means that clear management objectives and catch limits will have to be established for all fisheries and these rules should indicate when catches have to be adapted to the status of the stock. In practice, catch limits should be based on long-term management strategy and science, and not on short-term political or economic interest. WWF encourages all Contracting Parties to speed up this process in the coming years.
WWF is very concerned by the fact that little action was taken to recover the overexploited bigeye tuna in the Atlantic. According to ICCAT Scientific Committee, the new quota of 65,000 tonnes is putting the recovery under high uncertainty. In addition, no measures were taken to reduce the by-catch of bigeye tuna juveniles, including to adjust the fishing capacity and to reduce the use of high number of FADs.
For information / interviews:
Chantal MENARD +34 646 75 10 38 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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