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We are fast nearing the end of the 2010 ICCAT meeting in Paris. As some of you know, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is an international body responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and related species, as well as species caught incidentally as bycatch in these fisheries, including sharks.

Our team of experts has been observing the meetings, and though ICCAT regulations don’t permit anyone to report on whats happening, there have been some interesting things going on this week that we thought we would share with you.

First of all, we released our latest report that estimates that more than 1.3 million highly migratory sharks were caught in the Atlantic Ocean during 2008 — without international fisheries management. And what’s more, Oceana scientists believe that 1.3 million sharks is a gross underestimate. This is why it is so critical for sharks to be afforded better protection in ICCAT.

Meanwhile, Japan, which consumes nearly 80% of the Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna catch, proposed imposing a fishing ban on countries suspected of catching the highly prized fish over their quotas. Given the weight Japan carries on the issue of bluefin, we certainly hope they take a strong leadership position and put genuine effort into influencing other countries to safeguard the species.

In other interesting news, results from national surveys in Spain and France that included questions commissioned by Pew Environment Group found that a strong majority of Spanish (94%) and French (92%) respondents supported a suspension of Bluefin tuna fishing until populations have recovered and new management rules are put in place. Now, if only their governments would echo their sentiments…

We are still hoping for a positive outcome from ICCAT for Bluefin tuna, sharks, swordfish and turtles.

For more information check back with our blog soon, or have a look here.