WWF: Don’t increase bluefin tuna quotas
Quotas on Atlantic bluefin tuna to help protect and grow the population in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea are working, but it’s too soon to relax those restrictions, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
“There are still too many boats for too few fish to be sustainably caught,” said Dr Sergi Tudela, head of fisheries for WWF-Mediterranean.
The statement comes as member nations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meet in Agadir, Morocco, at the commission’s 18th special meeting. Members at the meeting include the United States, Canada, Japan, China and the European Union.
Tudela noted that ICCAT nations first adopted a plan to regulate Atlantic bluefin tuna fishing in 2008, and refined it in 2010. That plan, he said, has led to a stock increase, which is a good thing, but the tuna population still has a long way to go.
The current plan, Tudela said, was based on “strongly underestimated” catch rates of fishing fleets, which means overfishing may still be happening.
With the current plan scheduled to expire next year, Tudela urged ICCAT nations not to allow quotas to increase, and to more strictly enforce existing quotas.
“We call on ICCAT to extend the capacity reduction plan for the next three years using updated and accurate estimates of potential catch rates to ensure overcapacity is fully removed within the next three years,” Tudela said.
Tudela noted that Atlantic bluefin tuna has been so badly overfished in the past that it became the signature example of the negative effects of overfishing on local populations.
“ICCAT scientists are clear this year that the fishing quotas must not increase to enable Atlantic bluefin tuna to fully recover over the next decade,” Tudela said.” WWF calls on ICCAT contracting parties to stick to this recommendation.”