Brussels, 26 February 2009
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 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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