ICCAT takes decisive action to protect bluefin tuna and other marine species
17 November 2009

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) has met in Brazil and adopted a number of new multi-annual management plans which align fishing opportunities with the latest scientific opinions. Mediterranean nations can be particularly satisfied with the consensus reached on the recovery plan aimed at Eastern bluefin tuna, whose total allowable catch (TAC) for 2010 has been reduced to 13,500 tonnes (as compared to 22,000 tonnes in 2008). This will be accompanied by drastic cuts in fishing capacity. ICCAT also approved additional management measures for Mediterranean swordfish which will, on the one hand, reinforce the protection of juvenile fish through more stringent closure of fishing activities at the end of the year and, on the other, foresee the adoption of a long-term management plan at the 2010 ICCAT meeting on the basis of up-to-date scientific advice.

In addition to the quota reduction to 13,500 tonnes for 2010, the fishing season for purse seiners will be reduced to only one month in the year (between 15 May and 15 June). This shorter season can no longer be extended in case of bad weather conditions. As an additional precautionary measure, it was that agreed that, if in the course of 2010 scientists were to detect a serious risk of stock collapse, the fishery for Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin might be suspended completely. Also in 2010, following a new and up-to-date scientific assessment, ICCAT will adopt catch levels offering a high probability of allowing the species to rebuild. Finally, fishing capacity, i.e. the size of the fishing fleet, will have to contract in future years so as to be commensurate with future quota allocations.