Monday, 16 November 2009

Another Press Release this time about Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

Tuna commission fails to take action to save Atlantic bluefin

WWF is renewing its calls for an international trade ban in Atlantic bluefin tuna, after the commission responsible for managing stocks, failed to agree on measures that will ensure the recovery of the species.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas endorsed a proposal from its chair, the EU, Japan, Morocco and Tunisia to drop the 2010 eastern bluefin quota from 19,500 tonnes to 13,500 tonnes, still far too high to enable stock recovery.

A key study presented to ICCAT in Recife showed even a strictly enforced 8,000-tonne quota would have only a 50 per cent chance of achieving a recovery in eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna by 2023. Another ICCAT study showed only a total fishing halt yielded significant chances of the bluefin population recovering enough to no longer qualify for high-level trade restrictions by 2019.

Sally Bailey, Marine Programme Manager at WWF-UK said: “Now, more than ever, WWF sees a global trade ban as the only hope for Atlantic bluefin. ICCAT’s reduction in quota is not based on scientific advice, and is entirely unacceptable.”

WWF had lobbied the meeting for a fishing suspension and determined action against illegal fishing, estimated to considerably inflate the most recent (2008) catch estimates of 34,120 tonnes. During the Recife meeting almost all harvesting countries were formally identified by ICCAT as breaking its rules – like EU tuna fattening farms accepting fish without proper documentation. The massive overcapacity of industrial fleets in the Mediterranean also continues to hamper conservation efforts, yet the problem remains insufficiently addressed by the tuna commission.

The season for industrial fishing for bluefin tuna with purse seine fleets was reduced from two months to one, but remains open during the peak of the spawning period of 15 May to 15 June when the tuna are most vulnerable. ICCAT also continued to ignore long-standing calls to establish sanctuaries in key bluefin tuna spawning grounds such as the Balearic Islands off Spain.

It is now vital that member countries of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to line up behind global trade restrictions on Atlantic bluefin tuna. CITES is to consider a Principality of Monaco proposal that Atlantic bluefin be listed for the highest level of trade restrictions at a meeting in Doha next March.
(image from wo are also running this story)

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