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International Dolphin Conservation Programme

This programme contains measures that will make it possible to gradually reduce dolphin mortalities during tuna fishing in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and to ensure the long-term sustainability of tuna stocks in the area concerned.

ACT

Council Decision 1999/337/EC of 26 April 1999 on the signature by the European Community of the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Programme.

SUMMARY

In 1998 the 35th Intergovernmental Meeting held in the context of the IATTC (Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission) drew up an agreement on the "International Dolphin Conservation Program", which is aimed at limiting dolphin mortalities during tuna fishing in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Only by signing the agreement and acceding to the IATTC can the Community be guaranteed an active role in the management of the agreement. The purpose of this decision is to enable the Community to approve the agreement, thereby paving the way for its accession to the IATTC.

The agreement is aimed at:

  • gradually reducing incidental dolphin mortalities in the tuna purse-seine fishery in the Eastern Pacific Ocean to levels approaching zero, through the setting of annual limits;
  • promoting research for the purpose of seeking ecologically-sound means of capturing large yellowfin tunas not in association with dolphins;
  • ensuring the long-term sustainability of tuna stocks by avoiding the bycatch and discard of juvenile tuna.

The parties to the agreement are obliged to limit total incidental dolphin mortality during tuna fishing to no more than 5 000 annually. They will implement a number of measures to this end:

  • establishment of a system that provides incentives to vessel captains to reduce incidental dolphin mortality, as well as a system of technical training and certification for captains;
  • promotion of research for the purpose of improving gear, equipment and fishing techniques;
  • establishment of an equitable system for the assignment of dolphin mortality limits (DMLs), in accordance with the provisions of the agreement;
  • imposition on vessels of certain operational requirements (concerning dolphin safety gear and equipment and the release of dolphins, etc.);
  • development of a system for the tracking and verification of tuna fished with and without mortality or serious injury of dolphins;
  • exchange of scientific research data.

In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of living marine resources, the contracting parties must:

  • draw up programmes which make it possible to assess, monitor and minimise the bycatch of juvenile tuna and non-target species;
  • develop and require the use of selective fishing gear and techniques;
  • require that vessels release alive sea turtles and other threatened species.

In addition to these specific obligations, the signatory parties are required to fulfil the following obligations in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of tuna stocks and other stocks of living marine resources:

  • adoption of conservation and management measures;
  • assessment of the catch and bycatch of juvenile yellowfin tuna and other stocks of living marine resources associated with tuna fishing.

An on-board observation programme must be introduced by all the parties for ships with a carrying capacity greater than 400 short tons. On-board observers must undergo specialist training and gather all pertinent information on the fishing operations of the vessel to which they are assigned.

The parties must ensure compliance with these observation requirements and with the operational requirements (see point 3) by means of:

  • an annual certification and inspection programme for vessels;
  • sanctions applicable in the event of violations;
  • incentives.

Each party will set up a National Scientific Advisory Committee, the function of which will be to conduct scientific reviews and assessments, make recommendations to its own government and ensure the regular exchange of data among the parties.

An International Review Panel is established, composed of representatives of the signatory parties, non-governmental organisations and the tuna industry. This Commission is entrusted with supervisory and analysis tasks. It recommends to the meeting of the parties pertinent measures for achieving the objectives of the agreement.

Several provisions promote transparency in the implementation of the agreement (participation of representatives from intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations in the meeting of the parties, participation of the public in implementing the agreement at national level).

The agreement entered into force upon deposit of the fourth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession on 3 February 1999.

In line with the Council's decision, the Community signed the Agreement in Washington on 12 May 1999.

REFERENCES

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 1999/337/EC 26.04.1999 - OJ L 132 of 27.05.1999

RELATED ACTS

International Dolphin Conservation Programme

Council Decision 2005/938/EC of 8 December 2005 on the approval on behalf of the European Community of the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Programme[Official Journal L 348 of 30.12.2005].
By means of this Decision, the Community formally approved the Agreement, thereby paving the way for its accession to the IATTC. Its accession will take effect upon the entry into force of the Convention for the strengthening of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission established by the 1949 Convention between the United States of America and the Republic of Costa Rica (Antigua Convention) of which the Community is a signatory (see below).

Council Decision 1999/386/EC of 7 June 1999 on the provisional application by the European Community of the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Programme[Official Journal L 147 of 12.06.1999].
The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) plays a leading role in coordinating the implementation of the Agreement It is therefore necessary for the Community to accede to the IATTC as soon as possible.
The Community has already started the procedure for accession to that organisation but its accession could be delayed for technical reasons. During the interim period, it is important to protect the interests of Community vessels fishing in the region. Consequently, the Community has decided to apply the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conversation Programme provisionally.

Other measures to protect dolphins

Council Regulation (EC) No 812/2004 laying down measures concerning incidental catches of cetaceans in fisheries and amending Regulation (EC) No 88/98 [Official Journal L 150 of 30.04.2004].
The Regulation introduces technical measures aimed at reducing incidental catches of cetaceans in certain fisheries and establishes a system for monitoring incidental catches in order to acquire a better understanding of this phenomenon in many Community fisheries.

Other measures

Council Decision 2005/26/EC of 25 October 2004 on the signing, on behalf of the European Community, of the Convention for the strengthening of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission established by the 1949 Convention between the United States of America and the Republic of Costa Rica (Antigua Convention)[Official Journal L 15 of 19.01.2005].

Council Decision 1999/405/EC of 10 June 1999 authorising the Kingdom of Spain to accede to the Convention establishing the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission on a temporary basis (IATTC) [Official Journal L 155 of 22 June 1999].

Last updated: 28.02.2006
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