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November 19, 2009

ICCAT slashes bluefin quota, but is it enough?

The United States went to ICCAT after announcing its "strong support" for listing Atlantic bluefin tuna...
By Ncmc

Recife, Brazil -- The International Commission  for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) voted on November  15, 2009 to cut catches of eastern bluefin tuna by a third, from  a 2010 quota of 19,950 tonnes to 13,500 tonnes. The move came as  a last-ditch attempt by the disgraced tuna commission to ward off  a trade  ban that will be considered next spring. <>    
"The impending threat of a total ban on trade in bluefin  undoubtedly motivated ICCAT countries to bring the catch down by  quite a bit," says Ken Hinman, president of the National Coalition  for Marine Conservation (NCMC) and an advisor to the U.S. Delegation.  "But is the lower quota enough to save the species, and is  it enough to convince the world that an endangered listing under  CITES is no longer necessary?"  
The United States went to ICCAT after announcing its "strong  support" for listing Atlantic bluefin tuna under Appendix 1  of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species when  CITES meets in March 2010. But the U.S. qualified that support with  hopes that the tuna commission would bite the bullet at its November  7-15 meeting in Brazil and listen to its own scientific committee's  advice on what catch cuts are needed to stop overfishing and start  recovery.   
That scientific advice, unfortunately, is open to some interpretation.  Not about the sorry state of the bluefin population, which is indisputable.  But ICCAT's scientists gave managers a range of acceptable catch  levels, from 8,000 to 15,000 tonnes, depending on different theories  about future stock productivity and the rate of recovery.  Read the full  story. <>