EU ministers refuse to cut bluefin quota

The Fisheries Ministers of the European Union (EU) wants to maintain fishing quotas for bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) and has rejected a 50% reduction in catches, as proposed by the European Commission (EC).

European ministers opposed the idea stated by EU commissioner of fisheries, Maria Damanaki, with regards to the possibility of halving quotas for bluefin tuna in 2011.

This proposal involved cutting the quota from 13,500 tonnes - set in 2010 - to 6,000 tonnes for next year, with the aim of ensuring the survival of the resource.

The country that opposed this was France, which in turn was supported by Italy, Spain and seven more states, among which included Cyprus, Malta, Greece and Portugal.

The EC only received support from Sweden and the UK.

Damanaki wished for a decline in quotas after taking into account the recommendations made by scientists, who predict that the measure would increase stocks of bluefin tuna from now until 2020.

For its part, the head of the Ministry of Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs (MARM) of Spain, Rosa Aguilar, opposed a quick decision in this regard.

She also believes that it would take three years for the recovery plan by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to give optimal results.

For the Spanish minister, any decision taken must be based on the best scientific advice possible, in the case of bluefin, that would be from the Scientific Committee of ICCAT.

"For Spain, it is important that the EU leads the strengthening of the role of the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation to achieve sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources under their management," said MARM in a press release.

During the meeting of the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers in Luxembourg, the EU executive also raised the establishment of "sanctuaries" for spawning bluefin, where fishing would be prohibited.

ICCAT will meet in Paris between the 17 and 27 November to address the fisheries policy of tuna worldwide.

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