Brussels, 29 June 2009
Fisheries: EU hosts meeting on future of global tuna fisheries
The European Commission, on behalf of the European Union, will today welcome representatives to the opening of the Second Joint Meeting of the five tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) in San Sebastian, Spain. The meeting, which follows on from the first such event held in Kobe, Japan, in 2007, will run until 3 July. Objectives for the five days include a review of the actions agreed in Kobe, a workshop on reducing overcapacity in the global tuna fleet, and the agreement of a new plan of action for the next two years.
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg commented: "Most tuna stocks around the world are overfished, because there are simply too many tuna vessels pursuing them. Surveillance must be strengthened wherever tuna is fished and fleet overcapacity needs to be urgently addressed in a coordinated way if we are to solve the problem, and not just displace it. The agenda laid out at Kobe two years ago needs to be strengthened and its implementation accelerated. I hope that by the end of the meeting we will see not only further improvements in coordination between the tuna RFMOs, but also real progress with the ambitious agenda we have set ourselves."
The Kobe process seeks to improve coordination across the whole range of RFMO policy, including scientific research, market issues, monitoring and surveillance, the impact of by-catches, and support for developing countries. One of the main concerns of the Kobe meeting and the subsequent action plan was to secure support for developing nations to help them implement the management measures decided by RFMOs, in particular those intended to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Ensuring that the interests of developing states are fully represented in the Kobe process remains an important issue for the EU, and this is why the Commission has invited representatives of 21 developing coastal states to attend this week's meeting.
The Kobe process brings together the five tuna RFMOs: the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT). Those attending the San Sebastian meeting include delegations from contracting parties and non-contracting parties of the five RFMOs, as well as representatives of both inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations. The Kobe process was launched at the initiative of Japan, as a way of accompanying and encouraging the implementation of independent performance reviews by these RFMOs.