Collapsing fishery gets tuna commission a blast from own review
Calling the management of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery â€œan international disgraceâ€, a high level review has called for an immediate suspension of fishing.
The still confidential review, commissioned last November by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), says the suspension should remain in force until the fishing nations that make up the members of ICCAT show that they â€œcan control and report on their catchâ€.
Failing that, the ICCAT Performance Review recommends that ICCAT's own secretariat take over the responsibility for catch auditing and inspection.
The fishing ban should cover tuna caught for fattening in farms and ICCAT should consider â€œan immediate closure of all known spawning grounds at least during known spawning periodsâ€, the review said.Â
The review was chaired by Glenn Hurry, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and current Chair of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.
Moritaka Hayashi, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Japanâ€™s Waseda University, and Canadian international fisheries scientist Jean-Jacques Maguire, were the other members of the â€œindependentâ€ review established to follow â€œtransparent proceduresâ€ in reviewing ICCAT.
Mr Hurry and his fellow commissioners noted that â€œthe judgement of the international community will be based largely on how ICCAT manages fisheries on bluefin tunaâ€ and concluded that â€œthe international community which has entrusted the management of this iconic species to ICCAT deserves better performance from ICCAT than it has received to dateâ€.Â
"collapse could be a real possibility"
ICCAT also drew criticism for â€œhow little information and data are availableâ€ on bluefin tuna with the independent review nevertheless saying that despite the missing information â€œthere are indications that collapse could be a real possibility in the foreseeable future, particularly in the East Atlantic and Mediterranean.â€
â€œSuch staggering conclusions from independent experts only reinforce what WWF has been saying for years â€“ this is a fishery grossly out of control,â€ said Dr Sergi Tudela, Head of Fisheries at WWF Mediterranean.Â
The report cites the â€œthe under-reporting, mis-reporting and non-reportingâ€ by Contracting Parties of Mediterranean catches, large takes of juvenile fish and large spawning tuna, the fishing in former refuges and the continued expansion of the industrial fishing fleet.
â€œICCAT Contracting Partiesâ€™ performance in managing fisheries on bluefin tuna, particularly in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, is widely regarded as an international disgrace,â€ states the review.
It notes an estimated 2007 catch of up to 60,000 tonnes, more than double the legal catch of 29,500 tonnes and disastrously more than the scientific assessment of a sustainable catch of no more than 15,000 tonnes, saying â€œIt is difficult to describe this as responsible fisheries management.â€
The review panel justified its draconian recommendations saying that â€œwith the fishing activity largely unregulated, the stock possibly at the point of collapse and (Contracting Parties) either unable or unwilling to force their industries to comply, few options for recommendations were availableâ€.
ICCAT Chair Fabio Hazin has urged parties to â€œbe preparedâ€ to discuss the report at ICCAT's forthcoming meeting in Marrakech in November.
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