Oceana warns that political inactions is seriously threatening Atlantic bluefin tuna and sharks populations

ICCAT and the 48 major fishing countries of the Atlantic Ocean committed to protect these species, but proper management plans are still pending.

Press Release Date: November 19, 2010

Location: Madrid


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

Oceana presents an opening statement with a list of measures in order to restore the stocks of bluefin tuna, sharks and Mediterranean swordfish.

The international marine conservation organization Oceana urges the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to restore bluefin tuna and shark populations in the opening statement submitted today for its Opening Plenary. Oceana calls on the ICCAT Contracting Parties to reverse historical trends and immediately move towards precautionary fisheries management, respecting both the Convention’s objectives and the new course of actions committed to in various forums.

Oceana released the following statement today from chief scientist and head-of-delegation Dr. Michael Hirshfield: “The stakes are high today as the 17th Special Meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) begins in Paris, France. Oceana is calling ICCAT’s bluff: Restore depleted bluefin tuna and shark populations. Inaction threatens ICCAT’s credibility. ICCAT and the 48 major fishing countries of the Atlantic Ocean have a responsibility to protect these species and have committed to doing so. Immediate and proper international management is needed now or we will empty the oceans of these top predators and vastly change the oceans as we know them today”.

Oceana strongly urges ICCAT Contracting Parties to adopt the following measures:

Atlantic bluefin tuna

For the Eastern stock:

  • Close industrial purse seine fishing until the bluefin tuna stock recovers and full compliance with management recommendations can be ensured.
  • All Mediterranean spawning grounds should be protected as no-take zones for bluefin tuna, along with adoption of a catch level (TAC) that ensures recovery of this species in accordance with scientific advice and existing international commitments

For the Western stock:

  • Suspend the bluefin tuna fishery until management establishes science-based catch levels to recover the stock and protect spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico.

Pelagic sharks

  • Prohibit retention of endangered and vulnerable shark species, including oceanic whitetip, hammerhead and common thresher sharks.
  • Establish science-based and precautionary catch limits for other commonly caught species in ICCAT fisheries, starting with shortfin mako and blue sharks.
  • Improve the ICCAT finning ban by requiring that sharks be landed with their naturally fins attached.

Mediterranean swordfish

Adopt a sustainable management plan intended to recover the stock to MSY including, amongst other things, the following measures:

  • A Mediterranean catch limit in accordance with scientific advice
  • By-catch mitigation measures to prevent the capture of juvenile fish and endangered species
  • Fleet capacity reduction plans
  • Deterrent measures for those Mediterranean states that continue to harbour illegal driftnets.

Sea turtles

  • Require collection and submission of data on sea turtle interactions in ICCAT fisheries.
  • Mandate carrying of sea turtle dehooking gear and the removal of fishing gear from hooked or entangled sea turtles to increase survival rates.
  • Adopt fishing techniques that reduce harm to sea turtles including use of circle hooks with whole fish bait in longline fisheries and prohibitions on encircling sea turtles with purse seines.

 More information about Oceana’s position in ICCAT