Oceana applauds the decision of the European Commission on the early closure of bluefin tuna purse seine fishery. Despite the fleet reduction plans implemented and the absence of the Italian fleet in the seas, this measure had to be taken as the assigned quota was reached one week before than expected, which is a clear proof of the excessive capacity of the fleet in regards to the authorised quota. Bluefin tuna stock has dramatically decreased by 80% in contrast to the existing stock levels before the industrial fishing era.
Xavier Pastor, Executive Director at Oceana Europe, has stated: “This closure shows that there has been a better control in the fishery than past years. Nevertheless, we shall not forget that, the very management measures, despite their compliance, are perpetuating the overfishing of this species and is dangerously pushing stocks to collapse. Purse seine should have never been authorised, and fishing in spawning areas of this species needs to be prohibited”.
According to the public statement by the Commission, from midnight tonight, Spanish, Greek and French purse seiners will be forbidden to have onboard, put in fattening or breeding farms, tranship, transfer or land bluefin tuna. This measure will only apply for the EU fleet and not third-party countries.
The international marine conservation organization Oceana demands at the same time to have marine reserves designated for the main spawning areas of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean, the Balearic Islands, Southern Tyrrhenian Sea, Southern Malta and Eastern Mediterranean.
Bluefin tuna stocks are about to collapse due to overfishing and illegal fishing. Last March, the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was held in Doha (Qatar). During this meeting, the inclusion of the Atlantic bluefin tuna in Appendix I was proposed in order to ban international trade of this species. This proposal was rejected after dauntless efforts by countries like Japan to continue benefiting from the overexploitation of this species.