Brussels, 25 November 2008.
Fisheries: Commission satisfied with ICCAT
decisions to save bluefin tuna
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
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:
- Reduction in the fishing season by 4 months for purse seiners (15 April-15
- Fishing capacity shall be immediately frozen at 2007-2008 levels, followed
for the first time by a plan to reduce it to bring into line with national
- Farming capacity in 2009 must not exceed the maximum authorised annual input
over the period 2007-2008, and in subsequent years the capacity will be further
- An ICCAT regional observer project will be established to ensure 100%
observer coverage for all purse seiners over 24 metres, all purse seiners
involved in Joint Fishing Operation, and during all transfers to and harvesting
- Video records of fishing and farming operations made by operators must be
made available to observers and inspectors.
- Market measures are strengthened, in particular by banning import and export
operations for all bluefin tuna for which there is no quota, either at national
or individual vessel level.
- National fishing plans to ensure fishing effort is limited in line with
quota, and all boats over 24 metres will be allocated individual quotas.
- Specific quotas for sports and recreational fisheries, counted against
national quota, and subject to catch reports.
- A rigorous framework for the control of Joint Fishing Operations.
- The removal of the minimum size derogation for pelagic trawlers in the
Atlantic, and a reduction in the general minimum size derogation.
- Transshipment at sea will be prohibited. Transhipment will only be possible
in designated ports.
- Tuna may not be transferred to farms without prior authorisation of the flag
state of the catching vessel.
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