Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus. (Photo Credit: FishWatch)
ICCAT maintains bluefin tuna catch limits
Wednesday, November 27, 2013, 03:30 (GMT + 9)
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) took the decision no to modify 2014 bluefin tuna catch quotas in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Oceans but rejected the proposal to impose stricter protection on shark species.
The ICCAT decided to leave the 2014 quota at 1,750 metric tons in the western Atlantic and 13,400 tonnes in the eastern Atlantic, which was welcomed by non-government organisations, at the closure of its 23rd regular annual meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, Businessweek reported.
“We are very happy about that,” Sergi Tudela, World Wide Fund (WWF) head of fisheries, told reporters in Cape Town. “It was very important for ICCAT to stick to science and to follow the scientific recommendations against some pressure from the contracting parties to increase the quota this year.”
For his part, Masanori Miyahara, the commission’s chairman, said in an interview when the meetings finished that they worked in a constructive way.
“Research is going on but we haven’t received the outcomes yet. We have worked very constructively and the results are very good for the stocks,” he declared.
The WWF and the environmental unit of Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-profit organization that advises governments on sustainable fishing, requested quotas to remain unchanged in order to allow for the recovery of overfished tuna populations.
“For bluefin tuna it’s good news,” Jamie Gibbon, a tuna expert at Pew, stated in Cape Town and he added: “ICCAT has listened to its scientists and their advice and its maintained the catch limits at the current level which scientists have said will help the bluefin start their recovery.”
The ICCAT had also been urged by environmental groups to set catch limits for the short-fin mako, the fastest-swimming shark, and blue sharks, to prevent overfishing of the species, and strengthen a ban on the definning of the predators.
Alison Perry, a Europe-based shark campaigner for Oceana, claimed that “ICCAT’s inaction on sharks continues to make a mockery of their management” as there was no consensus on the issue.
Tudela added that the WWF was "very disappointed" at the member countries' decision to reject the proposals on the shark finning ban, since this species grow and reproduce slowly and an estimated 100 million sharks are slaughtered each year for their fins and meat.
However, Miyahara pointed out ICCAT’s members will continue working on sharks.
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