Alarming increase in the new ICCAT quotas for tuna fishing

The meeting of the 51-member International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) called to set new tuna catch quotas has come to an end in Marrakesh.

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The new quotas — 23,655 tons in 2017, more than 28,000 tons in 2018, 36,000 tons in 2020 — signal an alarming increase in pressure on a fish stock that is not yet out of danger.

‘The Commission’s 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,’ comments Silvio Greco, president of the Slow Fish* scientific committee.

‘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. Now, in the wake of studies reporting an improved situation, we are forgetting that it will take a long time before we have any certainty about this reversal, and that 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.

‘To lessen the damage and avoid erasing the positive effects of the limitations of the past, Slow Food is asking the ICCAT member states to allocate a sizable portion of quotas to small-scale fishers who use sustainable fishing systems, thereby giving much needed to oxygen to the people who have suffered most from the quotas themselves and who play such an important role in the economies of coastal communities.

*Slow Fish is a Slow Food international campaign that promotes small-scale fishing and responsible fish consumption, and it invites consumers, chefs, academics and fishers to find local solutions that support better management of the sea’s resources. Slow Food works to inform people about the richness and fragility of the marine world so that consumers can make more informed choices and widen their choices beyond the most popular – and often overfished – species.

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