The European Union has welcomed the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas(ICCAT) decision to increase the quota for Eastern and Mediterranean Bluefin tuna by just under 20% a year over the next three years. This moderate increase is fully in line with scientific advice and comes after several years of prudent management following the near collapse of the stock.
European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella stressed the importance of a sustainable increase: "Tough decisions and sacrifices had to be made to ensure that the Bluefin tuna stock didn’t collapse altogether. Today's decision on a gradual and moderate increase is in line with scientific advice and ensures that the stock's future is not jeopardised. At the same time it is a good reward to the efforts of the fishermen to restore this important stock that will bring about significant economic benefits."
Responsible measures taken on key stocks
ICCAT continued to take responsible measures based on scientific advice for a range of key stocks. For Eastern and Mediterranean Bluefin tuna the quota will be increased by just under 20% annually over the next three years subject to an annual review as suggested by the EU and in line with scientific advice. For Western Bluefin tuna, the quota will be increased by 14%for the next two years. This is also within scientific advice. The EU reminded the other Parties to ICCAT that a more consistent approach should be applied in the future for the management of the eastern and the western BFT stock.
Slow progress on sharks
However, little progress was made on sharks with the EU's proposal on shark finning once again rejected. ICCAT did adopt the EU's proposal on shortfin mako for better data collection, reporting on implementation and research and an anticipated stock assessment in 2016.
Fight against illegal fishing and better science prioritised
On control and enforcement and the fight against illegal fishing, key progress was made. In particular, ICCAT adopted guidelines for the cross-listing of vessels on illegal fishing lists of other management organisations.
On better science, ICCAT agreed to the EU's proposal to implement the tagging programme for Atlantic Tropical Tunas. This will allow the EU to commit 13,4m EUR from developments fund.
ICCAT is an inter-governmental fishery organisation responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean composed of 47 members. The EU is a member and the European Commission negotiates on behalf of the EU at ICCAT.