Last week's hopes for the future of bluefin tuna have essentially been dashed today as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting in Morocco comes to a close.
Oceana called for a closure of the bluefin tuna fishery to allow stocks to recover, but parties instead agreed to an unsustainable Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 22,000 metric tons for 2009. Proposals for a TAC of less than 15,000 metric tons for the eastern stock, which was in line with scientific advice, were tabled but rejected.
Xavier Pastor, Executive Director for Oceana in Europe, declared: "ICCAT’s credibility has been destroyed by the negotiating countries who opposed responsible management measures for bluefin tuna. Instead of preserving the bluefin tuna stock from collapse, they gave in to the fishing industry’s short-term economic interests. With this decision, we can only wait for the disappearance of bluefin tuna."
Members also debated about shark fisheries during the meeting, but parties agreed to the management of just one species, the bigeye thresher. A weak requirement was established to release any bigeye thresher sharks brought on board alive.
ICCAT’s failure to act likely signifies the end of Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks, and increasing trouble for blue and shortfin mako sharks, which are the sharks most caught in the Atlantic for their valuable fins.