ICCAT 2010 tuna, shark summary

30 Nov 2010

On Saturday 27 November the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) closed. Here the EU summarises the main decisions taken by the 48 member governments, including the controversial decision for Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Bluefin tuna

  • A precautionary TAC of 12,900 tonnes was set in line with scientific advice, and the EU's mandate for this meeting, and will be reviewed in 2012. This will give the fishery stability in the short-term, while enhancing the chances of achieving a full recovery of the stock within the timeframe set.
  • The allocation key was slightly modified, by the transfer of quota from Algeria to Libya and Turkey. Turkey and Libya have also committed to much closer cooperation on inspection and monitoring. The EU quota remains unaltered.
  • The control provisions of the bluefin tuna recovery plan were significantly strengthened, in order to close loopholes and tighten procedures even further. With one small exception, Joint Fishing Operations are now prohibited; VMS data must now be transmitted continuously throughout the fishing campaign, even when vessels are in port; and observers are mandatory on tugs, and on purse seiners below 20 metres in length, which were previously exempt.
  • An EU-proposed recommendation on electronic catch documents for bluefin was also adopted, which will considerably simplify control and traceability in this fishery.
  • There is no change in the EU Payback schedule that was agreed in Marrakesh.


According to the EU, it proved impossible to get agreement on a number of the proposals tabled on sharks this year. However, three recommendations were adopted which extend the protection of these vulnerable stocks: on shortfin mako, oceanic whitetip, and hammerhead sharks.

  • The EU’s proposal on hammerhead sharks has been adopted. The original proposal was slightly modified to allow landings to continue for one species (bonnethead), which is easily differentiable from other species, and which is in reasonable biological condition. A small exemption is also in place for local fisheries in coastal states which can demonstrate that no part of any sharks caught are allowed to enter the international market.
  • The shorfin mako recommendation introduces a provision that Contracting Parties which do not demonstrate their compliance with the management measures for this species, and in particular with the data provision obligations, should not be allowed to fish until they come into line. ICCAT members agreed they would like to see similar provisions extended to other fisheries in the future.
  • The oceanic whitetip recommendation prohibits fisheries on this species throughout the ICCAT area.

ICCAT also adopted a recommendation on sea turtles which introduces an obligation for operators to report interactions with turtles, as well as a range of measures designed to reduce bycatch.

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