Tuna fishing in the high seas. (Photo: Opagac)
Spanish fleet demands ICCAT greater involvement in tropical tuna management
Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 01:30 (GMT + 9)
The Spanish tuna fleet recognizes the progress made by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in the tropical tuna fishery management but believes that it should become more actively involved and take responsibility to develop multi-year work plans that guarantee adoption, on the part of the countries that participate in this fishery, of the control of their catches, no later than 2021.
The Spanish fleet grouped in the Organization of Large Freezer Tuna Producers (OPAGAC) and the WWF conservation group have sent this recommendation, along with others that aim to achieve long-term sustainable management of this fishery, to ICCAT and to the representatives from the European administration that will participate in the next meeting of this organization in Marrakech, Morocco, from November 14 to 22.
The recommendations made by OPAGAC and WWF are based on the Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP), jointly developed by both organizations and in line with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard.
Another of the fundamental points of the recommendations made refers to the total prohibition of transhipments on the high seas -- exclusive responsibility of the regional fisheries organizations (RFOs) - since, in their opinion, they are a clear vehicle for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities.
The Spanish tuna fleet and WWF emphasize that this prohibition has applied since 2007 to all vessels with the exception of longliners. This, in their opinion, together with the low level of observer coverage in this fleet, undermines the capacity of ICCAT to guarantee its adequate control and, therefore, to validate the scientific reports of this fishery on the status of the bigeye stock, the incidental capture of other species and their impact on the ecosystem.
OPAGAC and WWF also urge ICCAT to establish a plan to gradually increase observer coverage from the current 5 per cent to 100 per cent for a maximum period of five years, establishing a minimum of 20 per cent by the end of 2018.
Regarding the management of fishing concentrator devices (FADs), OPAGAC and WWF recognize the progress ICCAT has made in recent years, but they ask it to establish its own management plan, based on the recommendations of the joint working group on FAD of the tuna RFMOs.
Finally, OPAGAC and WWF also consider it imperative that ICCAT adopt plans to assess the impact of FADs on both tuna and ecosystem populations. In addition, they demand that contracting parties guarantee the use of non-entangling FADs and promote the investigation of biodegradable devices and reduce their possible environmental impact.