The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) decided at a conference on Monday that the annual fishing quotas for bluefin tunas will remain the same, despite Japan and other “contracting parties'” demands to increase it by an additional 400 tonnes. Japan is the world’s biggest consumer of tuna, getting 80% of the Atlantic bluefin tuna that is caught in the Mediterranean.
After long, drawn-out talks between different parties, the conference ended on the note that the current quota of 13,400 tonnes in the eastern Atlantic and 1,750 tonnes in the western Atlantic will remain the same. According to Sergi Tudela, the head of fisheries in the Mediterranean for World Wildlife Foundation, Japan opposed the status quo as the demand for tuna in their sushi restaurants is still high. Elizabeth Wilson, head of the international ocean policy unit for The Pew Charitable Trusts, said that the ICCAT decision was made to help the recovery of Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks, which is believed to have gone down 85% since the beginning of the industrial fishing era. She says maintaining the current quota is good for the future of the “most iconic and valuable fish” in the ocean today.
Countries that will violate the catch limits will be facing stricter penalties, according to South African government’s fisheries expert Johann Augustyn. But some of the conservation analysts expressed their disappointment that their proposal to also tighten the ban on shark finning. There is an estimated 1,000 sharks that are killed annually for their fins and meat, and their slow reproduction and growth means a low number of the marine animals are out there in the ocean.
[ via Enca ]