The EU must support a freeze on Atlantic bluefin tuna quotas and a shark finning ban at ICCAT | WWF

The EU must support a freeze on Atlantic bluefin tuna quotas and a shark finning ban at ICCAT

Posted on
18 November 2013
Cape Town, South Africa – As the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) opens its 23rd regular annual meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, WWF calls upon the European Commission to work with other delegations to ensure that maximum efforts are made to support the conservation of bluefin tuna and sharks.
In 2013 the EU adopted a new Common Fisheries Policy that enshrines adherence to the scientific management of stock. The 2013 meeting of ICCAT offers a golden opportunity to show radical observance of this principle and the European Commission must resist the attempts of some Member States to increase quotas before the long-term recovery of certain stocks are assured.
WWF calls on ICCAT to maintain catches at the levels agreed last year
Great progress was made last year on the East Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna stock when decision makers agreed for the first time on an annual quota based on science. Current scientific advice is based on the same assessment carried out in 2012, as no new stock assessment was carried out this year. For this reason the ICCAT Scientific Committee (SCRS) advises in 2013 against any substantial change in the current quota and specifically notes that maintaining catches at the levels agreed last year (13,400 tons) will likely allow the stock to fully recover by 2022.
Quote: Dr Sergi Tudela, Head of the Mediterranean Fisheries Programme at WWF
“Any irresponsible increase this year in bluefin tuna quotas for the East Atlantic and the Mediterranean by the ICCAT could jeopardize the timely recovery of the species. WWF calls on ICCAT delegates not to increase the tuna quota until it is based on the results of a new scientific assessment – no increase in quotas can be done against science”.
 WWF strongly calls on ICCAT to ban shark finning onboard vessels
After years of talks and ever mounting pressure from global citizens against this cruel practice, a proposal for an effective shark finning ban will finally be discussed this year in ICCAT, sponsored by the major fishing nations. WWF strongly calls on ICCAT parties to support it, after momentum was reached this year with the prohibition of this practice by EU.
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WWF asks of ICCAT 2013
On Atlantic bluefin tuna (East Atlantic and Mediterranean):
• No increase of the TAC above the 2013 level (13,400t).
• Review and strengthen the current fishing capacity reduction plan to bring real catch capacity down to the level of fishing possibilities.
• Radically reform the current quantification and traceability of fish from the catching purse seine vessels and throughout the farms.
• Fully support ICCAT SCRS in its endeavour to developing a new methodology and gathering new data leading to a much more reliable and robust stock assessment in 2015.

On sharks:
• Adopt shark finning ban
Notes to the editor
If we were to name an iconic species of the Mediterranean sea, it would no doubt be the Atlantic bluefin tuna, one of the biggest and one of the most commercially valuable fish in the world. Precisely for this, it has been heavily overfished for decades and the victim of widespread illegal fishing, especially in its main spawning grounds across the Mediterranean. The millennia-old bluefin tuna fishery in the Mediterranean entered a phase of rapid and intense deterioration the last decade of the 20th Century when the new practice of farming wild-caught tunas, formerly unknown in the Mediterranean, mushroomed without control. This generated a perverse overfishing spiral as the growing demand for live large tunas fuelled the massive development of the industrial purse seine fleets and their expansion over virtually all Mediterranean waters where the bluefin tuna gathered to reproduce.WWF was first to warn about this new threat and since 2001 has led the international campaign to avoid the collapse of the bluefin tuna population and to ensure a rational and sustainable fishing activity. 
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