From: Leigh Thomas, Reuters, PARIS
Published November 28, 2010 08:35 AM

Fishing nations agree to slight reduction in Atlantic tuna quota

Fishing nations agreed on Saturday to a slim reduction in quotas for catching giant Atlantic bluefin tuna, whose stocks have plunged as fishermen strive to meet demand from sushi lovers.

Ignoring calls from conservation groups for deep cuts, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) said its 48 member states, meeting in Paris, had set a 2011 quota of 12,900 tones, down 600 from this year.


An Atlantic bluefin can grow to the size of a horse and fetch as much as $100,000 in markets such as Japan, but stocks have plunged by more than 80 percent since 1970s, according to western scientists.

Environmental groups said the quota fell short of what was needed to sustain healthy stock levels, noting that illegal fishing and under-reporting of catches might mean stock estimates were over-optimistic.

"Greed and mismanagement have taken priority over sustainability and common sense," WWF Mediterranean fisheries head Sergi Tudela said.

"This measly quota reduction is insufficient to ensure the recovery of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean Sea."

The warm-blooded bluefin tuna can weigh up to 650 kg (1,433 lb) and is found in the North Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean, where big commercial fishing operations fatten captured fish in enclosures.

France, Italy and Spain catch most of the Atlantic bluefin consumed in the world and 80 percent of the haul goes to Japan.

While environmental groups lamented the cut as too little, the fishing industry said it was too much.

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