Mediterranean bluefin tuna: quota increase too much too soon


Genoa, Italy - As the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) closes its 19th special meeting, WWF expresses concern over the rapid increase agreed for the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishing quota, especially while little progress has been made to strengthen traceability in this fishery.

"It was a challenging meeting. It might seem a paradox, but the bluefin tuna case confirms that sometimes it's more difficult to manage a success than a crisis," said Dr Sergi Tudela, Head of Fisheries at WWF Mediterranean. "It's hard to apply the term 'moderate' to an annual increase of 20 per cent over three years. We are concerned that the huge conservation efforts of the last years might quickly fade away."

Signs of an ongoing recovery in the bluefin tuna population in the East Atlantic and Mediterranean have generated overly-optimistic expectations from industry and certain fishing nations.

Fishing nations finally agreed to an increase of nearly 20 per cent every year, from 13,500 tonnes in 2014 to 19,296 tonnes in 2016. Quotas for 2017 - initially set at 23,155 tonnes - will be reviewed based on the results of the stock assessment exercise scheduled for 2016.

Current signs of an ongoing recovery in the bluefin tuna population in the East Atlantic and Mediterranean have generated overly-optimistic expectations from a part of the industry and certain fishing nations. Some have asked for dramatic catch increases, ignoring warnings from scientists that any increase in catch levels should be "moderate and gradual."

It's time now for fishers, traders, retailers and consumers to ensure that the bluefin tuna recovery fully materializes and is a long-lasting reality.

"It's time now for fishers, traders, retailers and consumers to take greater responsibility to ensure that a bluefin tuna recovery fully materializes and is a long-lasting reality. WWF encourages bluefin tuna fisheries to demonstrate fully meeting sustainability and traceability criteria," said Dr Gemma Quílez-Badia, Fisheries Officer at WWF Mediterranean.

In this year's ICCAT meeting, fishing possibilities for the Western Atlantic bluefin tuna stock were also increased, and nations failed to agree on new measures to protect sharks.

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