Pew urges EU to adopt electronic tuna tracking
Citing a recent International Scientific Committee study that shows bluefin tuna populations remain extremely low, at 4 percent of historic levels in the Pacific, the Pew Charitable Trusts on Tuesday urged the species’ main harvester, Europe, to adopt stricter management regulations.
The press briefing was scheduled to precede World Tuna Day, which is Friday 2 May.
In a conference call with trade media, Pew campaigners pushed European Union governments to fully adopt an electronic tracking system for their catches, which it “championed” back in 2010 to address illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) manages all bluefin tuna harvests in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean.
“The EU has the lion’s share [of the bluefin tuna quota],” said Rachel Hopkins, global tuna conservation campaigner for Pew. “It’s committed to ending [IUU] verbally. It’s one of the most technologically savvy of the ICCAT governments. Now in the last hour it’s claiming it will be too burdensome or inconvenient and needing to be scaled back” to where the old paper-based system would be allowed.
Pew also urged ICCAT to continue to follow scientific advice in regards to setting catch limits on bluefin tuna instead of succumbing to political pressure to increase the quotas, even as there are positive signs regarding the species’ growth.
“Like a diet strategy, you can’t gorge every time you lose a pound or two,” said Hopkins, urging ICCAT not to “give into temptation every time there’s a sign of growth.”
Further, Pew is embarking on a project that will track the use of fish aggregating devices, or FADs, in the western and central Pacific Ocean. Pew says that while FADs do increase the efficiency in harvesting skipjack (chunk light or white meat tuna), they also lead to unintended bycatch of juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tunas.
Pew reported that about 85 percent of bigeye tuna, by number, are caught as small juveniles, attracted to FADs.