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November 14, 2012

ICCAT 2012: Fate of Bluefin Tuna and Sharks Being Discussed

Scuba Diving in a Tuna Cage


This week, the annual ICCAT conference is underway in Agadir, Morocco. As some of you may know, Oceana has observer status at the ICCAT meeting, and two of our experts are on the ground as we speak.

Bluefin tuna is such an iconic species, both because of its place in the culinary history of so many countries, and for its status as a symbol of the consequences of overfishing. Recent studies suggest that the Bluefin stock may be slightly improving, but scientists have called for a precautionary approach to Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna, which remain overexploited. The EU has agreed on the possibility of increasing the quota within scientific limits, up to 13500 tons – the consequences of which we are concerned about.

As one of our experts put it: “To do so means opening a Pandora’s box, because it not only could fuel third countries´ calls for unsustainable quota increases, but it could also jeopardise EU proposals for shark conservation, which are often affected by bluefin political discussions.”

ICCAT, despite its name, is not only about tuna: the fate of sharks is also at stake. The EU, which is a contracting party at ICCAT seems to be on the right track, and has agreed to propose new measures for the management of threatened species: a ban on catching porbeagle sharks, and the establishment of a catch limit for the vulnerable shortfin mako shark, which is commercially fished but unmanaged.

Yesterday, scientists submitted their recommendations – and in the coming days, we’ll find out whether we have cause to celebrate, or not.

Stay tuned to our twitter account for daily updates @Oceana_Europe