EU admits to illegal tuna fishing
Brussels, Belgium – Announcing the closure of the bluefin tuna fisheries in the Mediterranean and East Atlantic, the European Commission has recognised that European fleets had well overfished their quota for 2007 and acknowledged failings in the reporting of catch data and illegal fishing.
On the basis of the catch returns received from the seven European Union countries that fish for bluefin — Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain — the 2007 EU quota of 16,780 metric tons has been exhausted.
WWF points out the EU is legally bound to close the fishery when it has caught its quota, and indeed should have done so back in June when the EU quota was estimated to have been reached.
European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Joe Borg commented on the “problems of overfishing a stock already threatened with collapse and of equity between the Member States”.
“WWF sees this admission from the Commission as more evidence of management failure,” says WWF’s Sergi Tudela.
“The only way to guarantee a future for Mediterranean bluefin is to completely close the whole fishery also in June, the key month for spawning tuna.”
WWF is urging ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) to revisit the management plan for bluefin tuna at its November meeting in Turkey, to bring in urgent measures to facilitate stock recovery.
ICCAT also has the duty to punish fleets for overfishing and illegal fishing this season.
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