ICCAT fails to protect bluefin tuna

Posted by jamie — 29 November 2010 at 5:00pm - Comments

Oceans campaigner Oliver Knowles, Greenpeace delegation lead at the recent ICCAT meeting in Paris, sums up his feelings about the rather poor outcome.

This year, ICCAT had the opportunity to do two things: rescue bluefin tuna from the edge of commercial extinction and salvage its reputation for inaction. It has now failed on both counts.

Once again, ICCAT's 10-day meeting has resulted in a new fishing quota for bluefin, this time of 12,900 tons - a tiny reduction on last year's quota of 13,500 tons. Come May, sanctioned by the very organisation which is supposed to "conserve" tuna, destructive purse-seine fishing vessels in the Mediterranean will cast their nets again on this hugely depleted species.

Let's put a marker down here and now - the governments and delegates at this ICCAT session must be noted in history as those people that have failed this magnificent species.

A big day for bluefin tuna approaches

Posted by jamie — 23 November 2010 at 1:22pm - Comments

The tunamobile makes its debut at the ICCAT tuna meeting in Paris (c) Chauveau/Grenepeace

Oliver Knowles, oceans campaigner at our international office, wrote on Making Waves last week about the start of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT meeting) in Paris.

I'm on my way to Paris right now, where some important days for bluefin tuna are going to be taking place later this week and next. Fisheries managers and representatives from countries around the world are about to come to together at the annual meeting of ICCAT - the body that is meant to manage tuna populations in this area of the world. The challenges facing bluefin tuna have never been more plentiful and more serious.

The big question that will soon be answered - can those meant to protect bluefin tuna deliver meaningful change after years of mismanagement?

With ICCAT in the driving seat, what hope is there for bluefin?

Posted by Willie — 2 June 2010 at 9:14am - Comments

There's an analogy I sometimes use to explain the problem of overfishing. 

Imagine you are in a car hurtling at full speed down a hillside towards a cliff. Your foot is fully down on the accelerator. You have four options. Keep the foot down and plunge to your certain doom. Slam on the brakes and try to stop before you reach the cliff. Take your chances and jump out of the moving car. Or take your foot off the accelerator and just hope you slow down in time. 

Applying that analogy to Atlantic bluefin tuna, what needs to happen is the brake-slamming option.

Bluefin trade ban bandwagon

Posted by Willie — 8 February 2010 at 8:30pm - Comments

It’s like déjà vu, but hopefully this time it will be for real.

Several months ago the UK jumped eagerly on France ’s coat-tails by announcing it’s support for a trade ban on bluefin. Amidst the ups and downs since then our friends at Defra have been noticeably unforthcoming of late. Getting any straight answer out of them on bluefin was like setting up a black pudding factory on Mount Everest. That’s why we encouraged supporters to make sure Defra did the right thing and publicly supported a trade ban.

A New Year, and a new position from the UK government on bluefin?

Posted by Willie — 12 January 2010 at 6:36pm - Comments

Well, they may not be shouting about it, but it certainly looks that way. Ironically 2010 has been declared by the UN as 'International Year of Biodiversity', yet alarm bells are ringing for one iconic species already.

In a remarkable contrast from last summer, and autumn, when the UK Government were keen to tell us all how committed they were to saving the bluefin at every possible opportunity, our ministers have gone strangely silent on the issue since the ICCAT meeting in November.

Political flip-flops on bluefin?

Posted by Willie — 16 November 2009 at 11:36am - Comments

As ICCAT souvenirs, delegates will be packing their bags in Recife with a delightful polo shirt emblazoned with 'ICCAT' and a bluefin tuna, and a pair of flip-flops in Brazilian colours.

Somehow this is quite fitting.

The meeting has just come to a close, and the rushed final sessions have agreed as much as they could. In that haste, several things were put off to be considered again next year. Like the protection of endangered mako and porbeagle sharks, and measures to reduce the bycatch of seabirds and turtles. These sorts of delays are common in ICCAT when agreements can't be reached. But hey, why do today what you can put off until next year, right?

ICCAT: complying through gritted teeth

Posted by Willie — 15 November 2009 at 7:16pm - Comments

The vultures were literally circling overhead as we approached the ICCAT meeting venue this morning… so something is on its last legs.

So, with just one day of the ICCAT meeting left, it’s time to see what has been achieved here this week. The short answer is ‘not a lot’. Despite a week of meetings, including extra, lengthy, evening sessions, virtually nothing has been decided on or agreed yet. Decisions on quotas for fish like bluefin tuna, protection of sharks and seabirds, are being left until the last minute, and all need to be discussed on the last day.

Saving whales and saving money

Posted by Willie — 13 November 2009 at 11:47am - Comments

V for victory? A blue whale anticipates major cuts in Japan's whaling programme.

Many times during this conference I've heard bluefin tuna likened to blue whales - a comparison which has already been expressed eloquently by Charles Clover.

There are several stunning similarities -  they are both the biggest of their kind, hydrodynamic giants, amazingly adapted for life in the ocean. Most alarmingly though, both have been driven to the brink of extinction by overexploitation by a species remarkably ill-adapted for life in the ocean: humans.

Could bluefin tuna fisheries be closed? Our man in Brazil reports...

Posted by Willie — 12 November 2009 at 2:46pm - Comments

So, here in Brazil, the game is on. At the end of yesterday’s session the parties around the table at the ICCAT meeting were asked what their priorities were for conserving bluefin tuna. One by one they made positive murmurings about wanting to 'follow the scientific recommendations', and enforce compliance with them. They all pretty much said they want to see illegal fishing tackled. No rocket science there, and you would be forgiven for wondering why they have not done those things already!

Negotiating with biology

Posted by Willie — 11 November 2009 at 11:24am - Comments

As I write this, I'm sitting in the plenary room of the ICCAT meeting, whilst Charles Clover's film 'The End of The Line' is being screened. This in itself is a great coup.

In a memorable scene from the film, whilst attending a previous ICCAT meeting, Clover himself chastised the bureaucrats in that meeting for setting irresponsibly high quotas that ignored scientific advice. In his words they were '…negotiating with biology. And you just can't do that, and expect to see the biology survive'.

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