European bluefin tuna catching season ends early

This year’s bluefin tuna purse seine season in the Mediterranean and the Eastern Atlantic – due to run from 26 May to 24 June – has been brought to an early conclusion for 99 percent of European purse-seiners after they filled their entire quota.

Some fishing still continues for the small Croatian vessels that only operate in the Adriatic, but these activities are also expected to end soon.

Due to the progressive recovery of the bluefin stock, the overall quota for 2015 was more than 9,372 metric tons (MT), up 20 percent on last year. This was the first large increase in the quota that the EU has been allowed to fish since the establishment of the bluefin recovery plan in 2006.

According to the European Commission, no major issues have been detected relating bluefin overfishing or other illegal activities by EU vessels. It also said there have been no reports from NGOs of suspicious activities.

A full report of possible non-compliance activities, based on a detailed examination of the data collected, will be prepared by the Commission after the official closure of the fishing season.

Its control team, together with a team from the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), is now focusing on caging operations in Spain and Malta, in close co-operation with national authorities, to ensure that during the caging activities no bluefin quota will be overshot.

These high control standards require the deployment of a large number of inspectors, patrol vessels and aircraft throughout the year. Increased control activities take place during the purse seine fishing season and the caging period. For the latter, strict procedures are followed to verify the quantities of fish put in cages for farming purposes.

The Commission also monitors catches on a constant basis, including through a satellite-based Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), to ensure that all rules and individual vessels' quotas are fully respected.

The EU member states actively involved in the bluefin fishery are Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Malta, and Cyprus. These eight countries share the EU quota, with Spain and France having the largest shares.


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