Brussels, 6 April 2009
Today the Council adopted a Regulation to transpose into Community law the new 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 crucial that this plan is implemented by all ICCAT Contracting Parties this year for the main fishing season which will start on April 16.
“I am pleased that Council and Parliament made a major collective effort to have this Regulation adopted in record time. It is crucial that the recovery plan is applied to this year's fishing season by all the actors in this fishery. If implemented correctly, it is the best guarantee of protection for bluefin tuna and a chance to recover from the overfishing that has been taking place for too long. I would urge all other ICCAT members to take the same action, so that the efforts of some are not undermined by others. We need to act together in a responsible manner if we are really committed to the future of the bluefin tuna fishery", said Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
The European Commission has announced a strict, zero-tolerance approach to implementation of the ICCAT recovery plan. European operators will not be allowed to work with vessels or farms from other ICCAT Contracting Parties which are not fully implementing the plan. In particular, joint fishing operations involving Europeans vessels and placing of bluefin tuna in European cages will not be allowed with respect to operations involving those Contracting Parties.
The European Commission is also launching actions aimed at bolstering cooperation between Mediterranean States to ensure the success of the bluefin tuna recovery plan.
2009 Control and Inspection Campaign
To ensure the full implementation of the recovery plan, the Commission has established a Specific Control and Inspection Programme to monitor its implementation and enforcement. This programme is a joint EU project, which will bring together the resources of the European Commission, the Community Fisheries Control Agency (CFCA), and the Member States involved in the fishery. Indeed, control and enforcement will continue to be a critical issue in the fishery to maintain the resource at sustainable levels.
On 1 April, the Community Fisheries Control Agency (CFCA) adopted its Joint Deployment Plan for the bluefin tuna fishery in the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern Atlantic waters for 2009, thereby bringing the Specific Control and Inspection Programme into effect. The plan brings together the Commission, Member States and the CFCA, draws on the resources of the seven Member States involved in the fishery – Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain – and covers all stages, including the market chain, controls at sea, ashore, and at fattening farms. This year, the control activities carried out will be reinforced. Building on the last year experience, inspection activities have been enhanced by better planning and using modern technologies that allow for real time exchange of data.
In practical terms, the Community Fisheries Control Agency coordinates joint inspection and control activities involving 12 large patrol vessels, 17 coastal patrol vessels and 12 aircraft. There will be 274 days of control campaign at sea, 242 days on land and 70 using aerial surveillance, involving 279 joint teams of inspectors (mixing together inspectors from different EU Member States). The areas covered by the JDP are the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean (Western, Central and Eastern Mediterranean), thereby extending the geographical scope to the Azores and Canary Islands, in comparison with last year's JDP.