European outrage at ICCAT results

The results of the 14th International Conference for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) have been slammed by the EU fishing industry, which it says are “ill-thought out”.

Despite the good status and rapid recovery of bluefin tuna in the Eastern and Mediterranean stock, the ICCAT contracting parties agreed a small quota increase of 2,642 tonnes. Europêche says the Commission failed to highlight the efforts taken by the European fleet to recover the species and failed to extend management and control measures used for the eastern stock to the western stock.

“Contracting parties have been lenient on those exploiting the western stock of bluefin tuna, which has a spawning biomass currently at 50% of the maximum ever observed and instead displayed inflexibility with the quota for the eastern stock,” said Javier Garat, president, Europêche.   

In addition, the ICCAT contracting parties decided not to adopt new management measures on stocks of tropical tuna, which are also doing well. Following the advice of the Scientific Committee, a working group was set up to further evaluate the effect of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), making use of non-entangling FADs mandatory from 2016 – a practice already being implemented by some European fleets voluntarily since 2012.

The meeting also saw the rejection of the obligation to land sharks with fins attached, already in place under EU law since 2013.

"Our fleet does not practice finning as we market both the carcass and the fins yet we were subject to an ill-thought out blanket ban which has increased our operating costs hugely at no extra benefit,” Garat added. “Once again we have seen that whenever the fin-attached policy is discussed at ICCAT, the debate closes quickly because of opposition from Asian countries.”

“In order to have a global level playing field, we need to revise the EU ban given that the EU fleet is now operating at a competitive disadvantage compared to third-country fleets,” he concluded.

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