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Bluefin tuna specimens. (Photo: Stock File)

European Parliament supports new bluefin tuna recovery plan

EUROPEAN UNION
Friday, June 24, 2016, 21:10 (GMT + 9)

The European Parliament yesterday approved the final agreement on the Regulation that will from now on settle the multiannual recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

After a proposal by the Spanish MEP Gabriel Mato, the agreement has included a clause for Member States to perform a balanced distribution of bluefin tuna quotas, protecting traditional and artisanal fisheries.

Mato thanked Parliament for its support to his proposal and "its resounding positive answer to sustainable fisheries and a fairer quota distribution."

After the vote, in which 534 MEPs voted positively, 25 opposed and 37 abstained, the MEP also stressed that the recovery plan for bluefin tuna has worked. For that reason, "it is possible to significantly increase quotas and the increase should be directed primarily to these fleets."

What can not happen again, he said, is that "an artisanal fleet as the Canarian one with a scarce quota witnesses how this fishery is closed in 24 hours for having consumed its quota."

"The agreement reached between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission represents an unprecedented step towards the protection of artisanal fisheries, as for the first time criteria have been set from the EU for Member States, which are setting quotas to take into account the smallest fleets, which have traditionally been left out or offered narrow activity margin given the reduced amount of bluefin tuna fishing that is allowed every year," explains the Canarian MEP.

According to the text voted yesterday morning by the plenary, "Member States will use transparent and objective criteria, especially the environmental, social and economic ones, for the national allocation of quotas, giving particular attention to the preservation and prosperity of small-scale, artisanal, traditional fishermen using traps and other selective fishing methods, and to the promotion of such methods."

In addition, further conditions are set in this sense, when introducing a paragraph in the Regulation noting that "the recovery plan takes into account the specific characteristics of the different types of fishing gear. When implementing them, the Union and Member States should pay particular attention to non-industrial fishing activities and to more artisanal and sustainable gear, such as traditional traps (almadrabas), whose contribution to the regeneration of tuna stocks is extremely positive for its high selectivity and low environmental impact on marine ecosystems and are valuable from a scientific point of view."

Mato, who led the negotiations by the European Parliament as rapporteur for the proposal, points out that it is a "historic agreement" because it has been made possible for the three European institutions to agree on criteria which at first had been rejected outright.


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