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Bigeye Tuna is in the Red

Not the Same Old Tuna #5
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and its adjacent seas – ICCAT.
17th -27th November Paris

The bigeye tuna in the Southern Atlantic grows quickly: 105 cm at 3 years old, 140 cm at 5 and 163 cm at 7. But it is disappearing even faster. The Gulf of Guinea houses the principle spawning ground, however the last assessment of bigeye tuna was taken in 2007, and the latest fishing figures date from 2005. Yet the contracted parties, notably the fishing states, were not in agreement over a project supported by the USA, the EU, and Japan, who would have imposed an onboard observer program and a 2 month suspension of all fishing activity. According to the Scientific Committee, “the bigeye tuna situation is worrisome.” The situation could deteriorate quickly with the movement of purse seine and longline vessels from the Indian Ocean to the Southern Atlantic over fear of piracy. Illegal fishing activity is suspected to be prevalent in this fishing ground and the total admissible catch for 2011 is set at 85,000 tons.

The Western Atlantic bluefin tuna quota was fixed for 2011 and 2012 at 1,750 tons, 4 of which go to France in the name of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. Like the tuna of the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, an emergency clause was introduced, allowing the option to suspend bluefin tuna fishing if ICCAT’s Scientific Committee detects “a serious threat of stock collapse.”

For the bluefin tuna of the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, a comprehensive quota of 12,900 tons was allocated. A last minute amendment, submitted by Morocco proposed the “tuna payback” be divided over time for countries that overfished in the past. This amendment was refused following the objections of Norway and the EU. On paper, measures of control have been reinforced, notably the restrictions on joint fishing operations and better traceability of captured fish between fishing areas and farms. It remains to be seen whether or not these provisions will be applied in the field.