Pew ads call on EU to protect bluefin tuna

The Pew Environment group will launch advertisements in Brussels tomorrow calling on the EU to ensure the recovery of Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) will hold its 19th special meeting next week in Genoa, Italy, where it will determine fishing quotas for 2015. The EU holds 59 percent of the eastern bluefin tuna fishing quota.

“Don’t stop the progress on eastern bluefin tuna,” the Pew advertisement reads. “Thanks to science-based catch limits, eastern bluefin tuna are recovering. But there’s no scientific consensus on how to safely increase the quota this coming year and no electronic tracking system to curb illegal fishing — yet. Protect the recovery: Now is not the time to increase the catch limit.”

Pew is recommending that ICCAT members adopt precautionary, science-based catch limits; implement an electronic catch documentation system; adopt conservation and management measures to protect sharks; and adopt new measures to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and ensure full transparency from all members and accountability to existing commitments.

ICCAT set a fishing quota of 1,750 metric tons (MT) for 2014. Its Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) has conducted stock assessments that show stringent catch levels are allowing populations to grow. Conservation groups are calling for that level to be maintained through at least 2016.

While there are signs that the eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna population is recovering.

ICCAT is 15 years into its 20-year rebuilding plan and the population is estimated to be at 55 percent of the 1970 level, which Pew contends was already depleted after two decades of industrial overfishing. The Atlantic bluefin tuna population is only about 48 percent of its target size.


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