Brussels, 26 February 2009
Bluefin tuna: Commission proposes
application of revised ICCAT recovery plan
Today the European Commission adopted a proposal to
transpose into Community law the revised multi-annual recovery plan for Eastern
bluefin tuna adopted by the International Commission for the Conservation of
Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) at its annual meeting in Marrakech, Morocco in November
2008. It is important that this plan be implemented by all ICCAT Contracting
Parties before the beginning of the main fishing season. Tough
measures to secure the future of the bluefin tuna stock must be taken
immediately. This revised recovery plan demands further cuts in catch levels and
fishing seasons, and reductions in both fishing and farming capacity. It is a
sign of the seriousness of the stock situation. The revised plan also defines
mechanisms for control throughout the marketing chain and closes many
outstanding loopholes (see IP/08/1768).
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg commented:
“It is crucial that the measures that were agreed in Marrakech last
November be applicable to this year's fishing season. If applied correctly, they
are the best guarantee of protection to bluefin tuna that will give the stock a
chance to recover from the huge overfishing that has been taking place for a
number of years. I would urge all other contracting parties to ICCAT to take the
same action so that the efforts of some are not undermined by others. We all
need to act together in a responsible manner if we are really committed to the
future of the bluefin tuna fisheries."
The plan's aim is to ensure that effective steps are taken to help rebuild
the bluefin tuna stock in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. The
combination of shorter fishing seasons, effective new control measures and both
fishing and farming capacity limitations and/or reductions, together with the
substantial reduction in fishing opportunities introduced in 2009, will serve to
lower fishing pressure on the fragile bluefin tuna stock significantly.
The main elements of the revised recovery plan, besides the reduction in TAC
levels until 2011, are as follows:
- The fishing season for purse seiners, which represents around three-quarters
of the EU quota) will be shortened by 4 months (15 April-15 June).
- Fishing capacity will be immediately frozen at 2007-2008 levels, followed
for the first time by a plan to reduce it and bring it 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, capacity will be further
- An ICCAT regional observer project will be established to ensure 100%
observer coverage for all purse seiners over 24 metres, for all purse seiners
involved in joint fishing operations, 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 to be 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 will ensure that fishing effort is limited in line
with the quota and all boats over 24 metres will be allocated individual quotas.
- There will be specific quotas for sport and recreational fishing, counted
against the national quota and subject to catch reports.
- A rigorous framework will control joint fishing operations.
- The minimum landing size derogation for pelagic trawlers in the Atlantic
will be removed
- Transhipment at sea will be prohibited and will only be possible in
- Tuna must not be transferred to farms without the prior authorisation of the
flag state of the catching vessel.
The total allowable of bluefin
tuna catch for Community vessels in 2009 has been reduced to 12 406 tonnes,
as against 16 210 tonnes in 2008. It will be decreased further to
11 237 tonnes in 2010, with a reduction of 30% over two years.
On 24-27 March, the ICCAT Committee of compliance will meet in Barcelona in
order to assess the compliance of the Contracting Parties with the
measures in place in 2007 and 2008, as decided in Marrakech last November.
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