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MOROCCO SET FOR TALKS ON PROTECTING BLUEFIN TUNA – AND FISHERY BUSINESS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 17, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

by Marlowe Hood – Agence France Presse (AFP)

PARIS: The survival of the Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna population, exploited to the brink of THE BLUEFIN TUNA collapse, could depend on international negotiations starting Monday in Marrakesh, Morocco. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) will try to hammer out a new plan that protects the over-fished species without threatening the multi-million dollar industry that has been built around it.

Measures on the table range from tighter quotas and enforcement to an outright moratorium.

The stakes are high not just for bluefin and large-scale fisheries in a dozen countries but for ICCAT itself, according to the organization’s chairman.

“Our fate will be sealed ultimately by the decisions we make in Marrakesh,” Fabio Hazin wrote in a letter to the commission’s 40-odd member states two weeks ahead of the special meeting.

“Let’s not fool ourselves: There will be no future for ICCAT if we do not fully respect and abide by the scientific advice,” he warned.

Driven by skyrocketing prices – especially in Japan, which consumes over 80 percent of tuna caught in the Mediterranean Sea – bluefin tuna populations have crashed over the last decade.

Quotas put in place to stem the decline are not nearly stringent enough, according to many experts.

Others say current fishing limits would be adequate if they were respected: Last year the total catch in the Mediterranean was 61,000 tons, over twice the authorized limit of 29,500 tons, according to ICCAT statistics.

The body’s own scientific committee has recommended an annual limit of 15,000 tons.

At the end of October, European ministers said they were in favor of “more rigorous management of this fragile species,” including the possibility of lower quotas and a shorter fishing season, but stopped short of calling for a moratorium.

Six European nations have a direct stake in the negotiations: France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta and Cyprus.

But industry groups have remained adamant that current quotas should not be cut.

A summary report on tuna fishing by the Community Fisheries Control Agency, a European body set up in 2005 to monitor compliance with European Union fisheries rules, documented dozens of breaches in 2008.

The 10-page review, provided last week to the European Parliament’s fisheries committee, concluded: “It has not been a priority of most operators in the fishery to comply with the ICCAT legal requirements.”

The complete report – which cost 20 million euros ($25.197 million) – has yet to be released.

Environmental groups have sharply criticized European authorities for not making the report’s preliminary findings available to ICCAT’s scientific committee well ahead of the Marrakesh meeting, which runs until November 24.

“Shockingly, this valuable information has been kept hidden from scientists, thus undermining the quality of fisheries management advice,” said Sergi Tudela, head of fisheries for World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mediterranean.

The WWF and other environmental groups have called for an a moratorium of bluefin fishing until stocks recover.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

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One Response to “MOROCCO SET FOR TALKS ON PROTECTING BLUEFIN TUNA – AND FISHERY BUSINESS”

  1. BKOsuper said

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