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Pacific bluefin tuna. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

Pew, WWF claim further tuna and shark protective measures

WORLDWIDE
Tuesday, July 07, 2015, 01:10 (GMT + 9)

Two non governmental organizations voiced concerns about the fact that during the 89th meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), held in Guayaquil, Ecuador, no measures have been taken for depleted tuna and shark stocks.

“The failure the IATTC to agree to reduce catch limits or adopt a long-term rebuilding plan for Pacific bluefin tuna leaves the species at risk of population collapse,” pointed out Amanda Nickson, director of global tuna conservation for The Pew Charitable Trusts.

“It is high time to look at the prohibition of international trade through the Convention on International Trades in Endangered Species [CITES] as a means to protect this highly depleted species,” Nickson added.

Members of another NGO, like WWF, also expressed concern about the lack of stricter measures to protect Pacific bluefin tuna stocks.

For his part, Pablo Guerrero, WWF’s Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator, warned: “A rigorous recovery plan with strict measures, especially to protect juveniles, could have offered a chance for this fishery to recover. The failure to reach a decision means Pacific bluefin remain in danger of further depletion.”

As regards silky sharks, Pew stressed that at the meeting in Ecuador there was no consensus despite the fact that this species in the eastern Pacific was classified by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as vulnerable to extinction.

According to this organisation, scientists have proven that the population of silky sharks has been in sharp decline over the last decade, and therefore recommended the adoption of precautionary measures to promote species recovery.

As to mobulid rays, which are vulnerable to overfishing, Pew highlighted the IATTC reached consensus on a proposal to prohibit the retention of the species caught incidentally – with exemptions for some artisanal vessels – and outlines a range of techniques that help fishers with live release.

The NGO also stressed that "despite IATTC's lack of action," other measures taken include the reduction of Pacific bluefin catch by 250 metric tons next year by Mexico while other countries could also choose to act outside of the Commission process and implement additional conservation measures.

In addition, IATTC members agreed on a measure that clarifies many of the existing provisions on how to list vessels that are shown to have carried out illegal fishing activities and how to delist them when they are no longer linked to these activities.

In this regard, NGOs expressed concern because the measure includes an exemption for fishing boats less than 24 meters.

In relation to fish aggregating devices (FADs), members agreed they must be physically marked beginning in 2017 whereas scientists will review data to come up with potential management measures beginning in 2018. The measure also establishes a FAD working group, meaning the IATTC joins the three other tuna RMFO’s in establishing such a group.

“Right now the government agency responsible at any given port has no international obligation to inspect a vessel known to have engaged in nefarious activities. This is a major loophole and it has been left wide open for too long. While individual nations can take action, only regional cooperation will bring about measurable change, ” Nickson concluded.

Related article:

- IATTC rejects fishing quota increase to three countries


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