SME Chamber

The future of the bluefin tuna fisheries

 COM (2009) 93 –  Proposal for a regulation concerning a multi-annual recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean

In order to rebuild the bluefin tuna stock, the new ICCAT recovery plan provides for a reduction of the total allowable catch TAC level until 2011. In fact, the TAC for Community vessels in 2009 has been reduced to 12 406 tonnes, as compared to 16 210 tonnes in 2008 and will eventually decrease further to 11 237 tonnes in 2010 with a reduction of 30% over two years.


On consideration of rebuilding the stock, it refers to restrictions on fishing within certain areas and time periods, a new minimum size, measures concerning sport and recreational fishing activities, measures to address fishing and farming capacity as well as reinforced control measures and the ICCAT Scheme of Joint International Inspection to ensure the effectiveness of that plan.

The purpose of this proposal is to transpose in Community law the ICCAT recommendation establishing a recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. Nonetheless, this regulation is laying down the general rules for the application by the Community of a multiannual recovery plan for bluefin tuna recommended ICCAT.  The main elements of the revised recovery plan, besides the immediate reduction in TAC, are:

Reduction in the fishing season by 4 months for purse seiners (15 April-15 June).

Fishing capacity shall be immediately frozen at 2007-2008 levels, followed for the first time by a plan to reduce it to bring into line with national quotas.

Farming capacity in 2009 not exceed the max authorised annual input over  2007-2008, and in subsequent years the capacity will be further reduced.

An ICCAT regional observer project will be established to ensure 100% observer coverage for all purse seiners over 24 metres, all purse seiners involved in Joint Fishing Operation, and during all transfers to and harvesting from cages.

Video records of fishing and farming operations made by operators must be available to observers and inspectors.

Market measures are strengthened, in particular by banning import and export operations for all bluefin tuna for which there is no quota, either at national or individual vessel level.

National fishing plans to ensure fishing effort is limited in line with quota, and all boats over 24 metres will be allocated individual quotas.

Specific quotas for sports and recreational fisheries, counted against national quota, and subject to catch reports.

A rigorous framework for the control of Joint Fishing Operations.

The removal of the minimum size derogation for pelagic trawlers in the Atlantic, and a reduction in general minimum size derogation.

Transhipment at sea will be only possible in designated ports.

Tuna may not be transferred to farms without prior authorisation of the flag state of the catching vessel.

ICCAT will give its members the opportunity to present their compliance record for review and comment by all members of the organisation under the new compliance system. Failure to comply with a range of essential conservation and management measures and lack of meaningful monitoring, verification and enforcement measures, may lead to the immediate suspension or reduction of quota.

Non-compliance with farming and fattening measures may lead to a marketing ban. The ICCAT Committee of compliance will meet in Barcelona on 24-27th March to assess the compliance of the Contracting Parties with the measures already implemented in 2007 and 2008, in Marrakech last November.

Source: MEUSAC Agriculture and Fisheries Committee

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