IATTC fails to adopt tuna conservation measures, makes shark progress

Published on
July 5, 2016

The annual meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) ended on 1 July in La Jolla, California, without the adoption of new measures for the management of tropical tuna and for the conservation of bluefin tuna, though progress was made on shark conservation and on fishing aggregating device (FAD) management.

Members of the Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO) responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and other marine species in the Eastern Pacific Ocean could not agree on the recommendations by scientific experts to extend the fishing closure for bigeye and yellowfin tuna to a total of 82 days in order to ensure sustainable fisheries in the region while accommodating for the recent increase in fleet capacity.

These discussions will resume at an extraordinary meeting to be held in October.

Furthermore, because no progress was made on the conservation of bluefin, decisions were deferred to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

Meanwhile, new shark conservation measures were adopted in the form of stock assessments and data collection on both silky and hammerhead sharks, as well as safe release procedures for all non-retained sharks and a general ban on shark lines.

The EU’s proposal on FADs was also adopted, which will allow for progress on collection of data, research and management of these devices.

While no decision was taken on the reduction of fleet capacity, general principles were agreed upon. The EU was entrusted with developing concrete proposals against overcapacity, to be presented at the October meeting.

However, the European Commission (EC) said it was regrettable that IATTC could not reach a consensus on the EU's proposals on fins naturally attached and on port state measures.

“The EU strongly encourages action in these areas as a way to combat non-sustainable fishing practices and contribute to the protection of vulnerable shark stocks,” it said.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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