Paris (AFP) Nov 27, 2010
Ten days of backroom dealing come to a head Saturday when fishing nations announce new catch quotas for Atlantic bluefin tuna, a species many scientists say is teetering on the brink.
Hanging in the balance is not only the long-term viability of bluefin stocks, but the credibility of the 48-member body that has, by its own reckoning, done a miserable job of managing them.
"I do hope, and I believe, that ICCAT's 'dark ages' are in the past," said Fabio Hazin, chairman of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.
"Up to 2008, commissioners were not listening to science. It was a disgrace," he said going into the meeting.
In the end, all the haggling over catch limits will come down to a single number.
The fishing industry and the countries that back them are in favour of rolling over the 2010 quota for bluefin tuna caught in the Atlantic and Mediterranean -- 13,500 tonnes -- for another year.
An October report by ICCAT's scientific committee says this would put the species on track for a 60-percent chance of recovering to "maximum sustainable yield" by 2022.
Right now, its population is estimated to be at less than a third of that mark.
Environmentalists, along with some member states and scientists, say a 40-percent chance of failure is too high, and that even this estimate is based on optimistic assumptions and incomplete data.
"We are uncertain about the past, and probably more so about the future," acknowledged Gerald Scott, head of ICCAT's scientific committee.
The United States wants to cut current limits, while the 27-nation European Union is officially calling for a "stable or partially reduced quota."
But the EU is, in fact, sharply divided. While the bloc's major bluefin players -- France, Spain, Italy and Malta -- are pushing for the status quo, the European fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki, backed by Britain, has openly called for a catch limit of 6,000 tonnes.
The end-point numbers floating in the corridors of the closed-door meet Friday ranged between 10,000 and 13,000 tonnes.
France, meanwhile, is lobbying furiously behind the scenes for an amnesty on its "tuna debt", incurred in 2007 when it surpassed a national quota of 5,000 tonnes by more than 100 percent.
Without relief, it's bluefin haul for 2011 will drop from about 2,000 to 500 tonnes, barely enough to keep a couple of commercial vessels busy during the one- or two-month long fishing season.
The ultimate arbiter may be Japan, which consumes more than 80 percent of Atlantic bluefin tuna in the form of gourmet sashimi and sushi costing up to 20 euros (25 dollars) a mouthful in high-end restaurants.
After years of looking the other way, Tokyo is pushing ICCAT to crack down on rampant illegal fishing and tighten compliance measures put in place over the last two years.
"Japan is saying the right things, but has not put its cards on the table yet," said Remi Parmentier, a Madrid-based consultant for the Pew Environment Group.
Tensions this year are running especially high because Mediterranean rim nations -- which account for almost all of the region's authorised catch -- are renegotiating how to divide up the quota.
Libya, Turkey and Egypt are lobbying particularly hard to get larger slices of the shrinking tuna pie, according to sources sitting in on the discussions.
Any gains would likely come at the expense of the EU, whose 2010 allocation was more than 50 percent.
A proposal to create spawning sanctuaries in the Gulf of Mexico and six Mediterranean zones has failed to gain any traction, these sources say.
Industrial-scale fishing during the breeding season has been a major factor in driving down stocks, according to marine biologists.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics
Australia moves to protect bluefin tuna
Sydney (AFP) Nov 25, 2010
Australian has announced new measures to protect stocks of southern bluefin tuna, whose numbers are being threatened by the rising global popularity of sushi food. Environment Minister Tony Burke said the fish would be listed as "conservation-dependent", meaning it would be covered by new management plans to stop over-fishing. "While ongoing improvement in management measures are helping ... read more
Seven killed as bridge collapses in China|
LIDAR Applications In Coastal Morphology And Hazard Assessment
Violence grips Haiti ahead of elections
Finnish know-how can solve global problems: Nokia chief
Branson launching digital magazine for iPad
Thales announces venture for Chinese in-flight systems
Boeing Offers New Surveillance Detection System
Google seeking Miramax films for YouTube: NY Post
Bluefin tuna on the edge: who's to blame?
Africa to fall short on water Millennium Goals: UN
Crunch time at bluefin tuna meet
US closes shrimping near oil spill as 'precaution'
US designates 'critical' polar bear habitat in Arctic
Operation IceBridge Completes Another Successful Antarctic Campaign
Delayed ice threatening Canada polar bears
As Arctic Temperatures Rise, Tundra Fires Increase
U.K.: Food from cloned animals safe
Shrubby Crops Can Help Fuel Africa's Green Revolution
Mildew-Resistant And Infertile
Germany's top court upholds restrictive GM crops law
Indonesia's Mount Bromo shoots ash in low-level eruption
Indonesia issues eruption alert for second volcano
US spared hit during record hurricane season
Indonesia volcano death toll rises to 322
New north-south war in Sudan would cost 100 bln dlrs: study
South says six wounded in Sudan army attack
Niger air force chief held for plotting: government
US gives funds to Zambia to fight AIDS
Jet-Lagged And Forgetful? It's No Coincidence
Single drop of blood could reveal age
Study Reveals Neural Basis Of Rapid Brain Adaptation
Human Children Outpaced Neanderthals By Slowing Down
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|