Nations decide to increase quota for Atlantic Bluefin tuna

2017-11-21 22:00
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Brussels - Countries fishing the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean agreed on Tuesday to expand the annual quota for prized Bluefin tuna to reflect an improvement in their stocks.

Two officials at the meeting of the 50-nation International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas said that at the end of the meeting on Tuesday, countries have agreed to hike the quota from 24 000 tons this year to 28 000 in 2018, with a further 4 000 added in each of the following two years.

Slight increase

The decision means the quota has more than doubled from 2012, when hopes for a recovery of the once depleted stocks were first envisaged.

Bluefin tuna is a delicacy in sushi and sashimi dishes the world over.

Environmentalists will be disappointed since they maintain that the recovery of the Bluefin is still far too fragile to permit a major increase in fishing quotas. They were willing to accept a slight increase but not the number that has been agreed on Tuesday.

Improve efficiency

Considering how many species have been overfished to near commercial extinction in the past few decades, from cod off eastern Canada to Mediterranean Bluefin, the challenge of increasing catch quotas and still safeguarding stocks is daunting and fraught with risk.

Some environmental groups are troubled by the ICCAT's scientific findings and think they might be overly optimistic.

But influential partners like the 28-nation European Union and Japan believe the scientific advice has underpinned a rise in the annual catch quota to 36 000 tons by 2020. The EU said it is moving from Bluefin recovery to management of the stocks and will close off some loopholes in the system to improve efficiency.

Bluefin tuna's annual market value stands around $200m at the dock and four times more at the final point of sale.

Read more on:    belgium  |  fishing industry  |  marine life

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