Spain hosts bluefin tuna talks


Chris Dove, contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
September 20, 2010

Fishermen from Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Japan gathered in Isla Cristina, southwest Spain, from 7 to 19 September to debate the numbers of bluefin tuna caught annually.

They blamed the tuna shortage on overfishing by seiners, saying they catch 150,000 fish compared to the 10,000 caught by traps.

In 2009, a catch quota for bluefin tuna was issued by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Spain’s allocation was 4,296 metric tons, of which 1,209 tons were assigned to four traps in the Gulf of Cádiz.

ICCAT reduced the quota by 40 percent this year, giving Spain 2,616 metric tons, with 887 metric tons allocated to traps. With the full quota being reached by mid-season, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography claim that the Cádiz traps have caught four times more tuna than in 2009, resulting in many being returned to the sea.

The meeting questioned whether bluefin tuna stocks are recovering or whether these are exceptional breeding years.

Isla Cristina’s trap captains (Arraéz y Sotarráez) represent tuna fisheries in Conil, Barbate, Zahara de los Atunes and Tarifa. The ninth Friends of Tuna event was attended by scientists, professors, local authority delegates and society members. Discussed were the potential effects of climate change on bluefin stocks, the architecture of tuna traps and the technical language used by tuna fisheries. A roundtable session by the Moroccan Tuna Fishery Society was also held.

The trap captain’s program included a gastronomic route along which restaurants and chefs cooked dishes using locally caught bluefin tuna for guests to sample. The society also presented their book, Guide to Tuna and Mediterranean Food, produced in collaboration with Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. 

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