Saturday, November 29, 2008

ICCAT: Putting Atlantic bluefin tuna conservation in its grave

Just a few days ago, I posted some hopeful information regarding proposed limits or regulations on Atlantic bluefin tuna and several shark species (see posting). A meeting was being held in Morocco by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT). It seems by the end of the meeting those hopes were dashed.

The ICCAT has chosen to ignore the advice from their own scientific advisors and agreed to reduce the annual catch from 27,500 tons to 22,000 tons for 2009. The scientific advisors presented data that showed that a catch of 15,000 tons was necessary if the species was to be preserved. Once again it seems short-term economic gain has won out over long-term conservation management. Considering that negative economic impacts on commercial fishing are not something that nature has ever given much of a damn about, there are those who believe that the ICCAT's action could seal the fate of Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Xavier Pastor, Executive Director for Oceana in Europe, declared: "ICCAT’s credibility has been destroyed by the negotiating countries who opposed responsible management measures for bluefin tuna. Instead of preserving the bluefin tuna stock from collapse, they gave in to the fishing industry’s short-term economic interests. With this decision, we can only wait for the disappearance of bluefin tuna."

Also under consideration were regulations regarding the taking of several depleted species of sharks. The only regulation to pass was the releasing of bigeye thresher sharks. (Read Oceana press release.)

To modify Starkist's old advertising slogan, "Sorry Charlie", which promoted discriminating tuna quality; it seems the ICCAT wants to say "Sorry Charlie, nice knowing you."

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