Pew pushes for government, fishery adoption of bluefin tuna tracking system


Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor

Published on
April 9, 2015

Advocates with Pew Charitable Trusts are calling for governments and the tuna fishing industry to adopt a new electronic tracking system to help control illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing of Atlantic bluefin tuna, as a method of further controlling the taking of a species that Pew believes is still in danger.

A group of researchers is meeting in Brussels this week to discuss final developments of the electronic bluefin catch documentation system (eBCD), which is now 70 to 80 percent operational and aims to electronically track bluefin tuna to prevent illegal fishing.

“The need for electronic tracking is urgent if governments are going to ensure that illegal fishing does not contribute to the decline of this iconic species once again,” said Amanda Nickson, director of global tuna conservation for Pew. “Once fully implemented, this system will reward industry players that follow the rules and squeeze out the criminal activity, ultimately supporting the sustainable management of this prized fishery.”

Last fall, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) increased 2015 quotas for western Atlantic quota by 14 percent to 2,000 metric tons (MT) while the eastern Atlantic quota increased 20 percent to 15,821 MT, and more increases are expected in 2016 and 2017. ICCAT is expected to decide at its annual meeting in November on whether to adopt requirements of the new system.

Pew noted that Tunisia and Algeria have both pledged their support for the system already, while other markets are preparing for implementation including Japan, the European Union, the United States, and Canada.

“If North African countries, primary market states, and other fishing nations are all ready to implement by the end of this year, there is no reason to set the deadline beyond the 2016 fishing season,” Nickson said. “The momentum we’ve seen over the past few months must continue. Atlantic bluefin’s recovery is on the line.”

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