Brussels, 25 November 2008.
The European Commission is pleased with the consensus reached yesterday by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, to strengthen decisively the fifteen-year recovery plan for Eastern bluefin tuna, to protect endangered porbeagles in the Atlantic and to reduce the fishing season on Mediterranean swordfish. Through a combination of substantially reduced fishing opportunities, shorter fishing seasons, ambitious new control measures, and a landmark agreement on controlling both fishing and farming capacity, there will be an immediate and significant reduction in fishing pressure on the fragile bluefin tuna stock. The total allowable catch (TAC) for 2009 has been reduced to 22 000 tonnes, as compared to 28 500 tonnes in 2008, and will be decreased further to 19 950 tonnes in 2010 – a reduction of 30% over two years. Subject to an early reassessment of the stock in 2010, it is also envisaged to further reduce the TAC to 18 500 tonnes in 2011. These catch limits will be backed up by a four-month reduction in the fishing season for the purse seine fleet. In a separate decision, ICCAT also established a systematic peer-review system to assess the compliance of all its members, with the power to impose rapid and effective sanctions. Both these recommendations were adopted on the basis of proposals tabled jointly by the EU, Japan and a majority of the Mediterranean coastal states.
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg commented, “We need tough action to secure the future of the bluefin tuna stock, and ICCAT’s revised recovery plan demands further sacrifices from the fishing industry, with major immediate cuts in catch levels and fishing seasons, and reductions in both fishing and farming capacity to follow. It is a sign of the seriousness of the situation, and the maturity of all the participants, that it has been possible to achieve a consensus on these steps with the support not only of a vast majority of the ICCAT members, but also of the EU member states and stakeholders. What’s more, the revised plan will not simply reduce fishing pressure on the stock drastically, it also defines mechanisms for control throughout the marketing chain, and closes many outstanding loopholes. Together with the new peer-review compliance procedure, we now have the tools to make sure that 2009 is the ‘Year of Compliance’ for all ICCAT members involved in this fishery.”
The main elements of the revised recovery plan, besides the immediate reduction in TAC, are:
The new compliance system will provide all ICCAT members with the opportunity to present their compliance record for review and comment by all members of the organisation. Failure to comply with a range of essential conservation and management measures, including undeclared overshooting of quota, failure to provide catch and farming reports by agreed deadlines, and lack of meaningful monitoring, verification and enforcement measures, may lead to the immediate suspension or reduction of quota. Non-compliance with farming and fattening measures may lead to a marketing ban.