EU stops bluefin fishing season early

10 Jun 2010
The European Commission stopped the bluefin fishery six days early, on 9 June rather than the scheduled date of 15 June.

The European Commission stopped the bluefin fishery six days early, on 9 June rather than the scheduled date of 15 June.

The European Commission brought an early end to the Atlantic bluefin tuna purse seine catching season saying that the quota allowed to be caught had already been fulfilled.

EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki took the decision to end the fishing season early due to the exhaustion of the quotas allocated to the fleets.

The summer season opened on 1 June, but Brussels announced that fishing the tuna with purse seine nets would end at midnight, 9 June, rather than the scheduled date of 15 June.

"The commission has declared a zero tolerance approach towards overfishing and will take all necessary measures to ensure full compliance across the board," the EU's executive arm said in a statement.

All the major bluefin fishing companies of France, Greece and Spain were informed of the decision.

"The closure of the purse seine fishery is necessary to protect the fragile stock of bluefin tuna and to ensure its recovery," the commission said.

NGOs like Greenpeace and WWF claim the early closure of the fishery points to the gross overcapacity of the bluefin fleets.

“That EU purse seine fleets have in the space of a week caught their whole annual quota of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean is further proof that these boats are simply not appropriate for this fishery and that the whole operation is entirely unsustainable – not to mention economically unviable,” said Dr Sergi Tudela, head of fisheries at WWF Mediterranean.

 WWF said France’s purse seiners had already caught 1,456 tonnes by 8 June, which represented 86%of their quota for the year, while Spain’s had caught 728 tonnes, or 90% of their quota.

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