Heavily overfished Bigeye tuna stock is finally given a chance for recovery, yet unsustainable bycatch of shortfin Mako is likely to continue | WWF

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Heavily overfished Bigeye tuna stock is finally given a chance for recovery, yet unsustainable bycatch of shortfin Mako is likely to continue

Palma de Mallorca, Spain – Fishing vessels catching the highly overfished bigeye and other tropical tuna species will now operate under a 15 years program with catch limits and control measures that will help rebuild and maintain the stocks, following the decision taken today by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) gathered in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. WWF welcomes the decision, while criticises the weak measures adopted to avoid the unsustainable bycatch of vulnerable mako sharks.

Palma de Mallorca, Spain – Fishing vessels catching the highly overfished bigeye and other tropical tuna species will now operate under a 15 years program with catch limits and control measures that will help rebuild and maintain the stocks, following the decision taken today by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) gathered in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. WWF welcomes the decision, while criticises the weak measures adopted to avoid the unsustainable bycatch of vulnerable mako sharks. 

 

The long overdue decision by the EU and the 52 fishing nations of the ICCAT Commission to adopt a fairly comprehensive multi-annual management plan for bigeye and tropical tuna has the potential to prevent the collapse of the sashimi-prized bigeye tuna by 2033. It is encouraging to see the reduction of FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices used by purse seiners) by 40% in two years, as well as the inclusion of better monitoring mechanisms such as increased observer coverage for 10% of longliners, but this should be extended to 100% of them to be really effective against Illegal fishing. 

 

On the other side, WWF strongly criticizes the lack of adoption of a zero retention policy for Shortfin Mako sharks, mainly due to the opposition of the EU, US and Curacao. Countries agreed that dead makos that are caught can be retained and landed, provided there is an observer or a functioning electronic monitoring system on board. Following the recent listing of endangered mako sharks under CITES Appendix II, scientists agreed that the prohibition to retain on board, transship or land any of the catch of this species in the North Atlantic, is strongly needed to rebuild the population. 

 

Alessandro Buzzi, WWF’s spokesperson said:  

 

“It is a shame that fishing powers like the EU and the US decided to oppose a large coalition of nations and scientists calling for strong measures to address bycatch of endangered mako sharks. The progress we are finally seeing on tuna with the adoption of catch limits and control measures are first important steps to allow the recovery of key tuna stocks after decades of unabated overfishing. But the ICCAT nations must become bolder and more ambitious and stop bringing valuable species to the verge of collapse before taking the needed action.” 

 

WWF welcomes  the adoption of management measures for the conservation of blue sharks in the Atlantic. The agreed precautionary catch limit for the Atlantic stocks are important improvements towards a more comprehensive and sustainable management of the stock  globally.

 

The ICCAT Commission also agreed to establish a working group with the mandate to identify and address the important loopholes in the traceability and control systems for bluefin tuna. For WWF this must be a priority in order to fight the millionaire illegal fishing and trade of bluefin that was disclosed by last year’s investigation and that involves various European companies, ports and tuna farms.

 

WWF welcomes also the adoption of new text of the ICCAT Convention which sets the path for a stronger and more transparent decision-making process and enables ICCAT to directly manage shark fisheries.  

 
More information on WWF’s key asks to ICCAT here
A Shortfin mako shark off the coast of California, United States.