ICCAT – Press release #1

16 Nov 2010

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and its adjacent seas – ICCAT.
17th -27th November Paris

Bluefin tuna, albacore, yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, marlin and swordfish are just some of the numerous species directly concerned by ICCAT, created in 1966 in order to maintain the populations of tuna and tuna-like fishes “at levels which will permit the maximum sustainable catch for food and other purposes.” ICCAT’s area covers the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas such as the Mediterranean. This Commission also deals with species caught in association with fisheries targeting tuna such as the blue shark and porbeagle.

All these species are endangered or their populations are in decline due to professional and recreational fishing, pollution, degradation of habitat and the general depletion of the marine food web. Species of high commercial value are also subject to an expanding black market. Considering the number of parties involved, it is difficult to keep track and eliminate smuggling. There are numerous legal infractions, by means of undeclared catches, false labelling of fish, transhipment of merchandise at sea and unlawful exchanges of quotas. This applies especially to bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus).

In order to contribute to the regulation of fishing practices and of bluefin marketing, it is imperative that ICCAT, the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation, cooperates with CITES, the Convention specialised in the international trade of endangered species. Appendix II of CITES enforces strict control on international imports and exports. CITES Appendix II would create a double system of screening of trade outlets. It would complement and reinforce measures of ICCAT to curb the flow of illegal catches.

During the 15th Conference of the Parties to CITES, which took place in Doha, Qatar last March, the representatives of ICCAT declared that ICCAT and CITES should be working together not against each other, and that the two international organisations have everything to win by cooperating. ICCAT representatives have engaged in taking the necessary steps to put this cooperation on the agenda of this week’s reunion in Paris. In a joint press release on March 18th 2010, the French ministers of Ecology and of Agriculture and Fishing announced that they would continue to act in favour of protecting, through the listing in CITES Appendix II, bluefin tuna.

It’s now or never. Robin des Bois wishes among other things that at the 17th special meeting of ICCAT, members states will call for the listing of bluefin tuna under Appendix II of CITES.

Robin des Bois is an observer at ICCAT and at CITES.





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