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Europêche regrets ICCAT bluefin recommendations

Published by FiskerForum, 26-11-2017 · info@fiskerforum.dk

Europêche member organisations have all described as disappointing the results of the recommendations adopted by ICCAT for tuna and other species, especially the shortfall in the bluefin tuna TAC that the industry had expected would be higher, based on positive scientific data.

The industry had been hoping for a 32,000 tonne bluefin TAC, on the basis of data demonstrating the recovery of bluefin tuna.Instead, ICCAT approved a gradual increase that translates into 28,200 tonnes in 2018, 32,240 tonnes in 2019 and 36,000 tonnes in 2020.

Europêche believes that the EU has not been able to strike a balanced agreement since, besides not having achieved the desired TAC increase, ICCAT did modify the quota allocation scheme among the contracting parties to the detriment of EU operators.

'This change in the distribution system means that the rest of the countries will receive more quotas at the expense of the quotas of the Europeans. The European Commission has not been able to adequately defend the interests of the EU and its fishermen, demonstrating that their strategy has been wrong,’ said Europêche president Javier Garat, pointing out that although Europe will have a quota of around 15,850 tonnes in 2018, its catches will decrease 2.4 percentage points.

He said that it is foreseeable that the reduction will be even more pronounced in 2019 and 2020, being a decrease of 5.2 and 6.3 respectively, in favour of third countries, such as Algeria, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt or Albania.

Finally, the sector fails to understand why, in light of the data presented by the scientific committee, ICCAT has decided not to replace the existing recovery plan with a management plan for Eastern Bluefin tuna. However, there is a commitment to do so by 2019.

‘A decade ago environmental groups were warning that Atlantic bluefin tuna was at risk of extinction unless a total ban on commercial fishing was put in place. This was far from being true since it was a problem of excessive fishing effort,’ Javier Garat said. ‘In fact, today, only ten years later, due to the joint efforts of fishermen, scientists and governments, the stock abundance is estimated to be at least twice as large as in 1950 which was considered already a historical record. In this context, there was still room for a higher TAC. Our fishermen have faced hefty cuts over the past years in their quotas which led to a successful recovery of the stock; yet again their efforts are not duly rewarded by the international community.’

Europêche has welcomed the agreements reached on sustainable swordfish management in the North and South Atlantic, which involves measures that guarantee the future stability of stocks and is essential for the EU fishing fleets. The adopted measures allow continuity for a period of four years of the current quota levels, maintaining the same fisheries management conditions that have been applied for some years for these stocks.

A complete closure of the shortfin mako fishery has been avoided with a recommendation for management that establishes conditions for the capture and retention of these sharks requiring a significant effort to the sector. Live specimens arriving on board should be released and only those caught dead under certain conditions may be retained.

The European fishing sector regrets that ICCAT failed to adopt the fin-attached policy enforced in the EU and strictly implemented by European operators.

Europêche states that shark finning has never been a practice in European fisheries, as markets are there for both the body and fins of shark catches. EU fishermen are therefore subject to a rigorous set of restrictions that other operators are able to ignore.

Source: Europêche

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