Illegal swordfish fishing

Mediterranean swordfish is presently fished without any catch limits by more than 12,000 authorised vessels, 90% of which are EU-flagged Photo: Oceana Mediterranean swordfish is presently fished without any catch limits by more than 12,000 authorised vessels, 90% of which are EU-flagged Photo: Oceana

Oceana says that despite overfishing, the EU is still “refusing” to take action to protect stocks of Mediterranean swordfish.

It has uncovered a report that reveals how the Italian fleet “blatantly violates” current international fisheries measures in place to protect the species. This comes shortly before the issue is due to be discussed at next month's International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting in Brussels.

María José Cornax, fisheries campaign manager for Oceana in Europe, said that the EU should be at the forefront of management measures to rebuild stocks because it has a legal obligation under the Common Fisheries Policy to bring the stock to MSY levels by 2020.

“Instead, this latest report shows that the EU – and Italy in particular – is illegally catching, landing, and selling this heavily overfished fish,” she said.

According to the report, EU inspectors in southern Italy during March 2013 noted multiple infringements after the closed season for the fishery had begun on 1 March.

These included widespread presence of Mediterranean swordfish in the market of all sizes marketed at elevated prices of up to € 30/kg, landings of up to two tonnes per boat per day, a lack of required vessel logbooks and landing declarations and a total lack of intervention by local administrative authorities.

Mediterranean swordfish is presently fished without any catch limits by more than 12,000 authorised vessels, 90% of which are EU-flagged. Oceana said that 75% of catches are made up of juvenile swordfish that will never have the chance to reproduce.

It’s urging the EU to propose measures in line with EU legal obligations to achieve sustainable fisheries management levels.

Next month's ICCAT meeting is due to take place from 10 to 17 November in Genoa, Italy.

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