MEP Raul Romeva. (Photo: EP)
EU Parliament approves further controls and restrictions on bluefin tuna
Thursday, May 24, 2012, 01:20 (GMT + 9)
The full European Parliament (EP) approved a set of international rules aimed at reducing illegal catches of bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and in the Mediterranean, ensuring its recovery.
These standards include the strengthening of controls -- transfer of tuna from the nets to the cages -- and reducing the total allowable catch (TAC) as it is an overexploited resource and a victim of the black market.
The approved report, presented by MEP Raul Romeva, demands more stringent regulations for bluefin tuna capture and the declaration of spawning areas as refuges for the species, including an area in the south of the Balearics.
The document was endorsed with 635 votes in favour, 16 against and 11 abstentions.
Romeva stressed that as the fishing season for bluefin tuna began last week, the new plan should "be implemented as soon as possible."
"Despite being a step in the right direction, I regret that these rules are insufficient and do not fully comply with the recommendations of the scientific community," said the Spanish MEP.
"This is a missed opportunity to restore the bluefin tuna stock," he added.
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) amended the multiannual recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and in the Mediterranean in November, 2010. And the European Union (EU) is required to incorporate these changes into the Community law.
|Tuna fishing purse seiner (Photo: Tuna Seiners)
With regard to tuna fattening operations, the new law provides that if the control authorities find that the number or the average weight of the bluefin tuna exceeds by 10 per cent or more what is stated by the owner of the farm, the surplus will have to be released.
In addition, European countries will have to ensure the presence of domestic observers on board all purse seiners that are smaller than 20 metres from this year. And in the case of larger purse seiners an observer from ICCAT must be on board.
Member States will have until early 2013 to adapt their fishing capacity to the quota allocated to them.
Moreover, the fishing season for purse seiners will change from two months to one, from 15 May to 15 June.
The new rules reduce the TAC internationally from 13,500 to 12,900 tonnes. And in the case of the EU fleet, the TAC was reduced from 7,113 tonnes in 2010 to 5,756 tonnes at present, out of which 2,411 tonnes are for ships from Spain.
- MEPs support restrictions on bluefin tuna capture in the Mediterranean
By Analia Murias