From the 17th to the 24th of November the ICCAT has celebrated in Marrakech the 16th Annual Meeting of the Commission. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is an inter-governmental fishery organization responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas. Currently ICCAT has 46 contracting Parties including de European Union.
Fisheries management measures for the Eastern stock of bluefin tuna were discussed during the meeting but ended with a disappointing agreement. These bluefin tuna populations are really overfished, having serious risk of collapse. Scientific advisers proposed a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of less than 15,000 tons, but Parties agreed a TAC of 22,000 t for 2009, which is clearly unsustainable.
Shark fisheries were another highly debated topic during the ICCAT meeting, with unprecedented scientific warnings about the vulnerability of sharks and multiple proposals for shark fishing limits. Scientific advices for eleven species of sharks were submitted and communicated to the Parties, but only a minimum requirement was established: to release any bigeye thresher sharks brought on board alive.
After the meeting, Shark Alliance, a coalition of 61 conservation, scientific and recreational organizations dedicated to improving European shark fishing policies, has denounced the failure of international fishery managers to adopt meaningful limits on the catch of threatened Atlantic sharks. View press release
Submon, member of Shark Alliance since June 2008, wants to express its deception after the meeting’s agreements, adding to the conservationists decrying failure to protect even the most threatened species, and hopes that in the next coming meetings of the EU ministers’ council and the Convention on Migratory Species the protection of these animals will increase and urgent management measures will be installed.