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Tuna nations prepare for 2011 quota talks

16 Nov 2010

Atlantic bluefin tuna fishing nations will commence talks in Paris, France, on Wednesday 17 November to establish the 2011 quotas for this highly controversial species.

Nearly 50 member nations of the Madrid-based International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) will get together for 10 days of annual negotiations.

France, Italy and Spain catch most of the Atlantic bluefin tuna consumed on the global market, while Japan imports about 80% of the total catch.

ICCAT countries set a 2010 catch limit of 13,500 tonnes, down from 19,950 tonnes in 2009, although environmental groups claim that these quotas are well-exceeded and the species is still extremely at risk.

Meanwhile, a reduction in catches put forward by the European Commission ahead of the ICCAT talks has been rejected by several European bluefin fishing nations.

The nations that oppose the Commission’s proposal believe the ICCAT scientific reports justify maintaining the same level of catches as in 2010.

Sweden and the UK, meanwhile, supported the catch reduction sought by the Commission.

The European fleet has 7,104 tonnes of the 13,500-tonne bluefin fleet.

In late October, EU ministers expressed their opposition to the proposal by the EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki to halve the bluefin quotas in 2011.