Oceana calls for complete closure of industrial bluefin tuna fishery in Mediterranean; urges for protections of spawning grounds

Stronger Fishing Restrictions Essential to Recovery of North Atlantic Bluefin Tuna.

Press Release Date: November 16, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana, the world’s largest international ocean conservation organization, joined Greenpeace, WWF and PEW today in urging for stronger protection measures for bluefin tuna at the 17th Special Meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in Paris, France.

The human appetite for sushi and sashimi has created a market where a single bluefin tuna can be sold for more than $170,000. In recent decades, both Western and Eastern Atlantic blufin tuna populations have been demolished by industrial fishing.

“Failing to move ahead with stronger management measures for bluefin is not an option,” said Maria José Cornax, fisheries campaign manager at Oceana Europe. “Current management measures have not only been unable to restore bluefin stocks within a reasonable time period, but have also simply been ignored. We cannot close our eyes to the evidence by accepting a status quo that simply doesn’t exist.”

Oceana is calling on ICCAT to implement the following protections for Atlantic bluefin tuna:

  • Suspension of the industrial bluefin tuna fishery in the Eastern Atlantic and a total suspension of all bluefin fisheries in the Western Atlantic;
  • Establishment of no-take zones in bluefin tuna spawning areas in the Mediterranean sea and the Gulf of Mexico; and
  • Follow scientific advice to restore North Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks to sustainable levels, ensuring the positive outcome of the international agreements.

Oceana has stressed the fact that bluefin tuna infringements occur on a daily basis at different levels. In fact, the information reported by the organization to the ICCAT compliance committee in 2009 according to the Recommendation 08/99 (COC-307/2009) led to withdrawal of bluefin tuna licenses from one Italian and two Libyan purse seiners. More recently, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ (ICIJ) reported on the $4 billion bluefin tuna black market[1], which underscored the critical need for a precautionary approach to be put in place to prevent the disappearance of one of the ocean’s top predators.

“The first comprehensive management plan for the Eastern bluefin tuna stock was adopted in 2006. Five years later and after on-going evidence of the blatant disregard of rules by Mediterranean purse seiners and the farming industry, no sanctions have been applied against ICCAT Contracting Parties for non-compliance,” added Cornax. A complete closure of bluefin tuna industrial fishing is the only option that remains to ensure a real stock recovery, and this week could be a real turning point for the species.

Full Oceana’s position for bluefin tuna in ICCAT here

To learn more about ICCAT, bluefin tuna and other vulnerable species, and for downloadable images, please visit www.oceana.org/ICCAT.

[1] ICIJ Report “Looting the seas” is available on: http://www.publicintegrity.org/treesaver/tuna/#-/treesaver/tuna/00-toc.html