In the face of illegal fishing and rapidly declining bluefin tuna stocks, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) – an inter-governmental organization responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas – is holding a meeting in Marrakech this week to discuss urgent measures for sustainable fishing.
Stocks have fallen by 90% over the last thirty years – Japan being the world’s largest consumer, securing around 75% of the world’s bluefin catch – and according to the ICCAT, approximately 61,000 tonnes of bluefin tuna were caught in the east Atlantic and Mediterranean seas last year, double the acceptable catch of 29,500 tonnes.
The week-long meeting (November 17-24) will see the Commission agenda focus on issues including vessel chartering, a possible ban on driftnet fishing in the Mediterranean, bluefin tuna farming and budget.
Current proposals to protect stocks include the enforcement of stricter quotas and an outright moratorium. The Commission has set a target of 25,500 tonnes by 2010, but the body’s own scientific committee has announced that the catch needs to be reduced to around 15,000 tonnes.
Commenting on the present situation, Moroccan Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch said, ‘The condition for success… rests on our willingness to show more firmness in terms of respect of conservation measures for these migrant species and the fight against all types of illegal fishing’.
Akannouch also called for the ‘preservation of the fundamental balance of marine ecosystems and assurance of greater rationality in their management’.
Photo:Bluefin Tuna – Greenpeace