Sunday, October 10, 2010


The Fishing, Trade and Consumer Affairs Association for Bluefin Tuna(APCCR), a pressure group set up and funded by corporations in the bluefin tuna business, was reported as saying last Friday that "There is no possibility of bluefin tuna collapse."

To me, this looks like a misleading statement issued to confuse policy-makers before the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) next month in Paris. So, I thought I'd try to help bring some clarity.

I listened carefully last week to the presentation on the Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna population assessment carried out by ICCAT scientists, from which APCCR says it is drawing its claim. Here's what the scientists said: if annual catches are set to 13,500 tons, there is a 60% possibility that the bluefin tuna population could recover by 2022. In other words, what they're saying is that there is a 40% possibility that the population does not recover. So, we’re very far from the APCCR “no possibily of collapse” hypothesis. And if we take account of the poor compliance record of the fishing fleets within the area covered by ICCAT, things could be worst.

I suppose APCCR members are nervous because the EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki said recently to a hearing before the Environment Committee of the European Parliament that “if the [ICCAT] report says that we must reduce the quota, we will. I am ready to close the fisheries”.

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