Oceana: ICCAT’s status quo stance boots eastern bluefin tuna recovery but condemms sharks

Bluefin tuna quota maintained for 2014, following calls for precaution Shark proposals have been rejected for more than 5 consecutive years.

Press Release Date: November 25, 2013

Location: Madrid


Oceana Web | email: webadmin@oceana.org | tel.: 202.000.0000

Cape Town, South Africa.- As the 23rd Regular Meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) closes, Oceana welcomes the adoption of a precautionary ‘status quo’ quota for Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna for the year 2014. ICCAT Contracting Parties agreed a quota of 13,400 T for the coming year, recognising that early signs of stock recovery have yet to be confirmed by sound scientific assessments. However, a business-as-usual approach was unfortunately also applied to sharks, with ICCAT failing to adopt any of the proposed management measures for these threatened fish.

Maria Jose Cornax, fisheries campaign manager with Oceana in Europe stated: “We welcome ICCAT’s decision on bluefin tuna, and the leadership demonstrated by the EU –the main quota holder– in following the precautionary approach.” She added: “Contradictorily, Atlantic fishing nations simply have applied the opposite standard for the rest of species and stocks. In particular, it is simply outrageous that for yet another year, ICCAT Contracting Parties have neglected their responsibility to also manage sharks.”

Once again this year, Asian nations and Canadian systematically blocked proposals aimed at improving shark management and conservation in ICCAT. Three key shark proposals were discussed and rejected during the meeting: the elimination of loopholes in ICCAT’s shark finning ban; the prohibition of the retention and sale of highly threatened porbeagle; and catch limits for threatened shortfin mako. This year’s meeting was the fifth unsuccessful attempt for the first two proposals, while it was the second time that management of shortfin mako was rejected. Encouragingly, the proposal for implementing a fins-attached policy that would definitively have eliminated the illegal practice of finning gathered unprecedented support from a wide array of countries, including the EU, which incorporated this measure into EU law in 2013.

“ICCAT’s inaction on sharks continues to make a mockery of their management, as the Contracting Parties choose to simply ignore scientific recommendations” commented Dr. Allison Perry, marine scientist and shark campaigner with Oceana in Europe. “The international scientific community and ICCAT’s own scientists have highlighted the pressing need for adopting these measures. Certain Contracting Parties, however, continue to pursue a side agenda for these threatened species, driven by their own obscure short-term interests.”

Learn more: Oceana position to ICCAT

Learn more: Oceana report – Sharks in ICCAT