Atlantic bluefin quotas upped despite NGO pleas
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas wrapped its 19th special meeting in Genoa, Italy, by announcing that Atlantic bluefin tuna quotas will increase in 2015, with further increases set for 2016 and 2017.
The western Atlantic quota was increased 14 percent to 2,000 metric tons (MT) while the eastern Atlantic quota was increased 20 percent to 15,821 MT, which the conservation community says is too much too soon.
“It might seem a paradox, but the bluefin tuna case confirms that sometimes it’s more difficult to manage a success than a crisis,” said Dr. Sergi Tudela, head of the fisheries program at WWF Mediterranean. “It’s hard to apply the term ‘moderate’ to an annual increase of 20 percent over three years. We are concerned that the huge conservation efforts of the last years might quickly fade away.”
“This year’s ICCAT decisions have been overwhelmingly disappointing. Several species, including bluefin tuna and porbeagle sharks, remain at serious risk from unsustainable fishing,” said Paulus Tak, a senior officer with Pew Charitable Trusts. “Despite the last few years of progress from ICCAT countries, the decisions this year have shown that this Commission is not accounting for critical vulnerabilities highlighted by science. Instead of continuing progress toward adopting precautionary, science-based catch limits in some of these fisheries, member countries put in place very risky quotas that could lead to declines in bluefin populations.”
“This international decision to increase fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna underscores the senselessness of fishing out the ocean,” said Catherine Kilduff at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Rather than working to recover western Atlantic bluefin tuna we continue the absurdity of more fishing for fewer tuna.”
Delegates from more than 50 fishing nations agreed to increase the total allowable catch from 13,500 MT in 2014 to 19,296 MT in 2016. Quotas for 2017 – initially set at 23,155MT – will be reviewed based on the results of the stock assessment exercise scheduled for 2016.
“It’s time now for fishers, traders, retailers and consumers to take greater responsibility to ensure that bluefin tuna recovery fully materializes and is a long-lasting reality. WWF encourages bluefin tuna fisheries to demonstrate fully meeting sustainability and traceability criteria,” added Dr. Gemma Quílez-Badia, fisheries officer at WWF Mediterranean.