EU commissioner dismayed by bluefin tuna decision

Industry Database

European environment commissioner Janez Potocnik has said he was very disappointed with the attitude of Mediterranean member states over bluefin tuna quotas for 2011.

Potocnik said the recent decision by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) to reduce the EU’s total bluefin tuna catches next year by 600 tonnes was “insufficient”.

He said the position against further cuts taken by Malta, France, Italy, Cyprus, Spain, Greece and Portugal restricted the Commission’s room for manoeuvre to obtain better results.

“ICCAT’s decision is not what I hoped for and I regret the fact that EU member states did not support the Commission’s position,” he charged.

Mediterranean member states were vehemently opposed to a Commission proposal to bring the 2011 quota down to about 6,000 tonnes from the 13,500 tonnes allowed this year.Forming a front they managed to restrict the Commission’s negotiating position to insignificant cuts.

Following ICCAT’s negotiations in Paris, the overall catch was reduced to 12,900 tonnes.

Potocnik said ICCAT’s conclusions were “worrying” with regard to the future sustainability of bluefin tuna stocks. “The probability of bluefin tuna recovery following the ICCAT decision is far too low to be sufficient,” he said.

In its 2009 report, the ICCAT Scientific Committee stressed that, unless fishing mortality rates were substantially reduced in the near future, a likely reduction in spawning stock risked fisheries and stock collapse. For the Commission, these conclusions were cause for concern.

“Although ICCAT insists the agreed quota of 12,900 tonnes follows scientific advice, many are arguing the same scientific advice clearly indicates this quota is much too high to allow stocks to recover with a reasonable and acceptable level of probability,” Potocnik said.

“I think it is important we follow scientific advice but it is also clear to me there are serious knowledge gaps which would need to be addressed urgently.”


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