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Taytay fish landing with skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) in a crate. taken in Taytay, Palawan, Philippines. Photo: Jurgen Freund / WWF
The decision to steadily up tuna quotas to as much as 36 000 tons in 2020 has received backlash from conservation groups.
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) said in a statement last week – following its 25th regular meeting in Morocco – that the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna, following the advice of the scientific committee, for 2018 would be 28 200 tons.
“While 28 200 to 32 240 to 36 000 tons are the TACs for the period 2018 to 2020 for this emblematic species, the details of the new management plan could not be agreed, so most of the current provisions were left in place for a further year.”
The 2017 quota for this region was set at 23 155 tons.
Slow Food International – a global grassroots organisation fighting for food access for all – said in a statement that the new quotas signalled an “alarming” increase in pressure on a fish stock that was not yet out of danger.
“The Commission seems to have taken its decision more under pressure from those interest groups in the fishing industry that have always begrudged the quota system than on the basis of reasonable prudence,” said president of the Slow Fish scientific committee Silvio Greco.
“We’re talking of an increase of virtually 50%, one of the highest granted since the quota system came into being. Let’s not forget that quotas were slashed in 2009 to countervail an evident depletion of stocks.”
He said that now, in the wake of studies reporting an improved situation, they were forgetting that it would take “a long time” before they had any certainty about the reversal.
“There is still a clash of opinions in the scientific community over the real resilience of stocks. It’s by no means easy to come to watertight conclusions about a migratory species with catch data and parameters that are often partial and invalidated by the illegal fishing phenomenon.”
The body also appealed to ICCAT to allocate a sizable portion of quotas to small-scale fishermen who used sustainable fishing systems.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said that it was angered that the Commission had chosen “short-term economic profit” when they had hoped for a long-term conservation victory.
Fisheries project manager at WWF Alessandro Buzzi said: “We have been fighting for the last ten years to save bluefin tuna, we are so near recovery that it is a scandal to see ICCAT going back to business as usual; this could jeopardise all the progress we’ve made.”Source: The Mercury