Brussels, 14 November 2008
Commissioner Joe Borg has expressed his disappointment at the lack of progress made at the most recent meetings of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). The European Commission had been hoping that both of these organisations would take decisive steps in areas in which the European Union has consistently urged action to strengthen conservation and to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The European Community is a cooperating non-party to the IATTC. The sticking points at last week's IATTC meeting (held in La Jolla, California,) included new conservation measures for tropical tuna stocks for 2009 onwards to replace the previous measures which expired in 2007, a European Community proposal to regulate swordfish fisheries, and a clampdown on IUU fishing. Furthermore, IATTC members could not agree on a performance review for the organisation, making it the only major regional management organisation for tuna that has not yet done so. Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, Commissioner Borg said: "I regret that an organisation as important as the IATTC has been unable to agree on tough and effective conservation and on anti-IUU steps to safeguard stocks and guarantee fishermen the opportunity to make a living in a sustainable marine environment. I urge the IATTC to redouble its efforts to come to an agreement on these crucial matters when it next convenes."
The CCAMLR Plenary Session which took place in Hobart, Tasmania, also last week produced mixed results. The European Community, a CCAMLR member, succeeded in having proposals adopted on a notification scheme for transhipments and a classification code for Antarctic krill products. Furthermore, the Commission's presentation of the IUU Regulation was well received by other CCAMLR members. On the downside, the continued opposition to the Community's trade measure proposals is a major disappointment as such measures can play an important role in tackling illegal fishing.
The lack of progress on key measures at these meetings may oblige the European Union to take unilateral measures in some areas. In addition, on 1 January 2010 the EU IUU Regulation will enter into force in the EU. This Regulation aims to stamp out illegal practices that deprive honest fishermen of deserved financial gain and damage the sustainability of the marine environment.
The European Commission will continue to work closely with IATTC and CCAMLR members to ensure that agreement on these and other important issues can be reached at the next meeting. The European Commission believes that organisations such as the IATTC and CCAMLR are vital to moves to preserve our marine heritage at international level. It is confident in the ability of both organisations to make up for lost time at their next meetings and to make a bold contribution to conservation and management efforts around the world.
The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) was established in 1949. Its main focus is on managing the yellowfin and skipjack tuna stocks in the Eastern Pacific. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was created in 1982 and is responsible for the conservation and management of marine living resources and their rational use in the Southern Ocean. The main commercial fisheries in the Convention area are for krill and Patagonian toothfish.