ICCAT boosts Atlantic bluefin quota to 36,000t by 2020

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has increased bluefin fishing quotas in the Atlantic for the coming years, while it has failed to reach an agreement on new measures to regulate tropical tuna fishing in the Atlantic, sources at the ICCAT meeting in Marrakesh told the news site Undercurrent News on Nov. 21.

The meeting, which started last week, ended on Nov. 21. The total allowable catches (TACs) of bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea will progressively be increased from 22,705 metric tons to 36,000t in 2020.

The quota has been set at 28,000t for 2018, 32,000t for 2019 and 36,000t for 2020 (see table below). Meanwhile, the quota for the West Atlantic Ocean will rise to 2,350t.

In 2018 and 2019, the commission may distribute the un-allocated reserves for 2019 and 2020 in consideration of the stock status, it said.

Some of the representatives of fishing firms attending the meeting expressed satisfaction on the quota increase. However, NGOs said that these decisions could be an enormous setback for Atlantic bluefin tuna’s recovery.

Parties chose to ignore the fact that neither western nor eastern bluefin is fully recovered yet, and instead adopted quotas predicted to lead to decline for the foreseeable future, the Pew Charitable Trusts claimed.

Instead of allowing bluefin stocks to continue to grow, ICCAT adopted an eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin quota that is the highest quota on record, even higher than when the stock was in crisis in 2008 and western quota is the highest it’s been years, Pew said.

The science suggests that both quotas will lead to declines in abundance, even though neither stock is rebuilt and western bluefin’s rebuilding deadline is one year away, the NGO added.

According to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), “ICCAT has chosen short-term economic profit when we had hoped for a long-term conservation victory”, said Alessandro Buzzi, fisheries project manager at the NGO.

Spain regrets that an agreement has not been reached to replace the recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, as the report of last October’s meeting of the ICCAT scientific committee recommended, the Spanish fisheries ministry said in a note.

The proposal of the European Commission — which clashed with many other contracting parties — was rejected, so it was decided to postpone work for its adaptation to the management plan until the 2018 meeting, the ministry said.

However, the increase in the TAC was positive, the Spanish ministry said, noting that the Spanish quota will increase 46% over the three years.



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