Greenpeace: bluefin tuna on Death Row

ICCAT has approved a 2011 bluefin fishing quota of 12,900 tonnes: down from last year’s quota of 13,500 tonnes. ICCAT has approved a 2011 bluefin fishing quota of 12,900 tonnes: down from last year’s quota of 13,500 tonnes.

The failure by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas to deliver any meaningful rescue for Atlantic bluefin tuna is a huge setback in the fight to save one of the most overexploited fish species, claims Greenpeace.

Governments at ICCAT approved a 2011 bluefin fishing quota of 12,900 tonnes: a small decrease from last year’s quota of 13,500 tonnes.

“The word ‘conservation’ should be removed from ICCAT’s name. Governments have just agreed to a bluefin fishing plan that scientists conclude has a shocking one-third chance of failing to protect the species. Would you get in an airplane or car if you were told that it had a 30% chance of crashing?” asked Greenpeace International oceans campaigner Oliver Knowles.

“Despite repeated warnings from scientists, the ICCAT delegates have again bowed to narrow fishing interests and condemned the bluefin to suffer continued overfishing. The Mediterranean bluefin fishery should have been closed here at this meeting. This is a monumental failure of the way governments are supposed to protect our oceans.”

According to the environmental campaign group, the European Union and France, the host country, were the architects of this failure.

The total quota approved by ICCAT contravenes EU legislation which makes mandatory the recovery of stocks by 2015 and 2020 at the very latest, Greenpeace said.

Japan also went back on promises made earlier this year to ensure bluefin protection at this ICCAT meeting, it added, saying the agreed quota is “simply not compatible” with stated intentions to restore bluefin populations.

Greenpeace has been calling on ICCAT to close the Mediterranean bluefin fishery and protect key spawning grounds for the species.

Discussions earlier in the year at the European Union and the UN Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) had indicated that a more positive result might be possible at this year’s ICCAT session.

“It is appalling that the governments gathered here were unable to finally put the brakes on this slow-moving crash of an environmental disaster. Instead, the European Union used its political muscle to ensure the continuation of the tuna farming business responsible for the current situation,” said Knowles. “This outcome confirms that the bluefin’s days are numbered and has demonstrated ICCAT’s inability to act on its own mandate.”

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