CCA Calls for CITES Listing on Bluefin Tuna
Following the management decisions made at the November 2009 meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in Recife, Brazil, the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) remains firm in its call for the United States to take a leadership role and insist that all international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna be halted, while hope for a recovery still remains.
Management measures adopted by the member countries of ICCAT at its latest meeting fall far short of the commitment needed to ensure a future for this valuable species, despite a growing international realization that time is growing short to end the overexploitation of bluefin tuna.
ICCAT’s own Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) issued guidance warning that adoption of a harvest limit of 8,500 tons in 2010 would result in a 70 percent chance that the spawning stock biomass for bluefin tuna would still be less than 15 percent in 2019 Nonetheless, the member countries of ICCAT adopted a 2010 harvest limit of 13,500 tons. Furthermore, the SCRS called for a closure of the Mediterranean during spawning season which was also rejected.
These latest decisions continue ICCAT’s well-documented history of ineffective half-measures regarding the international management of Atlantic bluefin tuna and underscore the need to have both the eastern and western stocks of Atlantic bluefin listed on Appendix I to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Given the ICCAT track record, the “promise” to adopt measures next year that will have at least a 60 percent probability of moving the spawning stock above the low 15 percent level seems empty. Also, efforts by European nations to eliminate the illegal fishing on the species that caused the liberal 2008 quota to be exceeded by more than 50 percent have yet to show success.
In our previous correspondence, CCA asked that, should ICCAT fail to adopt biologically defensible management measures, the Department of Interior proceed with an effort to list the Atlantic bluefin on Appendix 1 to the CITES, thus prohibiting the international trade in bluefin and extinguishing the greatest motivation to overfish the species It is clear from the last meeting of ICCAT that its management efforts have again failed the United States, the world and the bluefin tuna. There is no longer any reason to expect ICCAT to end the overexploitation of bluefin.
American fishermen and markets are not responsible for driving bluefin tuna to the edge of extinction, but this country needs to lead the solution to salvage what is left and set it on a road to recovery. Under an Appendix 1 listing, American commercial fishermen will be allowed to market bluefin domestically and anglers will be able to continue fishing within the proscribed quotas and bag limits. We encourage the Department of Interior to proceed with the necessary course of action to list the Atlantic bluefin on Appendix I to CITES and prohibit the international trade in bluefin.
Coastal Conservation Association is the largest marine resource conservation group of its kind in the nation. With almost 100,000 members in 17 state chapters, CCA has been active in state, national and international fisheries management issues since 1977.