Azara Blog: A reduction in European bluefin tuna catches

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Date published: 2006/11/27

The BBC says:

The annual catch of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean Sea and eastern Atlantic Ocean is to be cut by one fifth in an attempt to conserve dwindling stocks.

The 42-nation International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (Iccat) agreed the quota cut at a meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Iccat also agreed measures to combat illegal hunting of the giant fish.

Conservation groups criticised the scale of the cuts as "weak, scandalous and inadequate".

Scientific advice prepared for the Iccat meeting concluded that catches in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean were about three times above sustainable levels.
A WWF study found that one in every three bluefin landed in the Mediterranean was caught illegally.

The Iccat deal will see:

The Iccat decision follows reductions made earlier in the year in Japan, which agreed unilaterally to cut its own catch of southern bluefin tuna by 50%.

If you take the WWF figures on illegally caught bluefins at face value, and by some miracle Iccat managed to stop most of this illegal fishing, then the amount of fish landed would be reduced by around a third, which is halfway to the scientific request for a two thirds reduction. Needless to say it is easy for the scientists to make these requests, it is not they who will be out of a job.

However the real question is whether the increase in permitted minimum size from 10kg to 30kg will do any good whatsoever. The fishing fleets will presumably still catch those smaller fish, only they will then have to chuck the dead (or damaged) fish back into the water. Hardly a great victory for the environment, indeed it could make things worse than now by forcing the fishing fleets to catch even more bluefins than now.

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