Libya to step up regulation of tuna fishing

Published on
February 21, 2020

Libya’s United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) is proposing measures to support planned improvements to regulations on hunting, selling, and exporting of tuna in 2020.

During a recent meeting to discuss the way forward for Libya’s dwindling tuna fishery – organized by the Ministry of Economy in the country’s capital, Tripoli – participants from various government departments committed to working together to revamp the industry by developing rules and regulations that align it to international best practices and standards, according to the Libya Herald.

Participants at the meeting also discussed a proposal to review tuna fishing licenses, and how to address the current challenges of inadequate mechanisms to monitor compliance to the license conditions, in addition to the inability of the government to ensure transparency in the collection and utilization of fishing license fees.

Libya produces bluefin tuna, a species whose production has been lagging since 2012, when the Government of National Accord was formed to replace the collapsed government of former dictator Muammar Gaddaffi. Production reached just 1,796.9 metric tons (MT) in 2018, according to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).

However, that number was an increase from 1,323.3 MT and 1,588.9 MT for 2016 and 2017, respectively, and it has risen from lows of 756 MT in 2012. Post-2012, each year saw a slight increase in catch: 929 MT, 933 MT and 1,153 MT for 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively.

Last year, ICCAT raised the annual global bluefin tuna fishing quota to 32,240 tons, with 17,623 MT being allocated to the European Union.

Despite efforts by institutions such as ICAAT to generate the latest developments in Libya’s fishing industry, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the country has “no official data available since the last few years.”

Nevertheless, FAO estimates Libya’s capture fisheries to have reached 32,000 MT in 2017, barely over half the output the country had before the 2011 Arab Spring.

Libya’s aquaculture has also declined to 10 MT from the 400 MT the country produced in the early 2000s, with fish imports estimated at USD 137 million (EUR 126 million) and exports at USD 36 million (EUR 32 million), respectively.

Last year, ICCAT said Libya’s Total Allowable Catch (including discards) was fixed at 2,060 MT for the entire year, with the association saying the North African country “shall have no trap and farming activity in fishing season 2019 after the country fully committed to conduct this (2019) fishing season in line with the pertinent ICCAT resolutions and recommendations.” 

Photo courtesy of Mohamed I Kalid/Shutterstock 

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