Action needed for Mediterranean swordfish
Scientists from the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) met recently in Casablanca, Morocco to assess stock levels of swordfish in the Mediterranean Sea.
Oceana says it echoes an overwhelming call by the scientists at the Mediterranean Swordfish Stock Assessment Session Meeting for tougher action to reduce swordfish overfishing.
The meeting confirmed that the current measures to scale down overfishing are weak, inadequate and short-sighted. Swordfish is still one of the most heavily-fished species in the Mediterranean and, due to the lack of proper stock management, there is still no sign of a possible recovery in the short-term. Swordfish stock levels in the Mediterranean are now only 30% of the size compared to 30 years ago, according to ICCAT.
“It is time to stop overfishing and replenish swordfish stocks," said Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe.
"Three decades of overfishing is enough! We want to see a recovery plan put in place now, a plan that sets total allowable catches on swordfish. We know that this kind of robust recovery plan has worked for other stocks like bluefin tuna or swordfish in the Atlantic. Postponing a recovery plan any longer would be short-sighted and undermine the future for the fishermen and communities who depend on a healthy swordfish fishery for their livelihood.”
The number of Mediterranean swordfish has declined by 70% between the 1980s and 2015. Over 70% of swordfish unloaded in the Mediterranean are so young that are they unable to reproduce, making a biological recovery for this highly-commercialised fish impossible.
Oceana is calling on the EC and, in particular, EU Member States sharing Mediterranean waters, to push for a robust, sustainable and transparent swordfish recovery plan to be adopted at the ICCAT Commission in November, which includes:
- Setting a catch limit and regulating the fishery through total allowable catches
- Putting in place monitoring, control and surveillance measures to combat overfishing
- Protecting juvenile swordfish by increasing minimum catch size and adopting seasonal fishing closures
- Protecting vulnerable species caught in Mediterranean swordfish fishing
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