NGOs: Suspend bluefin fishery due to Libya

By

SeafoodSource staff

Published on
May 10, 2011

The World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace on Wednesday called on the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) to suspend the industrial purse-seine bluefin tuna fishery in the Mediterranean Sea.

The recommendation follows Libya’s announcement that it will now allow fishing in its waters despite lack of fishing plan for the season. This would make any fishing activity by Libyan fleets illegal, according to ICCAT rules. WWF and Greenpeace said due to the current unrest in Libya there is no chance of effective monitoring and enforcement of the bluefin fishery in its waters, undermining an internationally agreed recovery plan for the species.

The organizations said there are reports that several Libyan vessels left Malta bound for Libyan waters, adding that ICCAT members should have stepped in to prevent their departure. They also reminded the French government of its responsibilities, since 10 Libyan-flagged purse-seine fishing vessels are owned by French interests.

The letter also urged ICCAT members to take decisive action to prevent illegally caught bluefin from entering the market.

“Tough times require tough measures,” said Sergi Tudela, WWF-Mediterranean head of fisheries. “The painstaking and fragile achievements of the last years are endangered by the maverick attitude of a small minority. Responsible members of ICCAT must rally to do what is necessary to save this species and fishery. Only vigorous action now can prevent Atlantic bluefin tuna from plunging into a new Dark Age before it has even emerged from the last one.”

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