ICCAT in its Lifeboat

26 Nov 2010

Not the Same Old Tuna – #4
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and its adjacent seas – ICCAT.
17th -27th November Paris

In Paris, ICCAT contracting countries are multiplying good news announcements, positive resolutions and promises of finances to save tuna and to show the image of a united family and of world citizens.

However, the reality is the complete opposite. The declarations of catches, the statistics, the lists of ships involved, and the annual reports are, in general, truncated, manipulated, or nonexistent. Back payments of subscription accumulate. Absentees are given the benefit of the doubt, such as Algeria, suspected to be involved in illegal activities of bluefin tuna in 2008 and 2009 – the Algerian delegation arrived one day before the meeting finishes.

Scientists from contracting countries participate less and less frequently at the meetings of ICCAT’s Scientific Committee. Simultaneously, all the contracting parties pretend that tuna is essential for the economy and food security, a position summed up well by Ghana: “tuna is the backbone of our country.”

In the near future, if strictness and transparency are not applied, the backbone of ICCAT is at risk of collapsing. An emblematic decline could hide others within. In the shadow of the bluefin tuna, worries and uncertainties are emerging about the stocks of bigeye tuna, yellowfin, skipjack, and even albacore in the South Atlantic where an unknown number of international tuna vessels have fled from the Indian Ocean because of the risk of piracy.

Sushi lovers, restaurant chains, supermarkets and all those who support a move to other species of tuna are going down the wrong way. When consuming tuna a selective approach must be taken into consideration, as well as a complete understanding of the consequences.

Throughout the progress of this meeting in Paris a general shortfall is demonstrated by national administrations in charge of fisheries. Only intransigence, independence, and reinforcement of its services could save ICCAT from bankruptcy … and CITES, International Convention on the Trade of Endangered flora and fauna Species.





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