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. EU agrees to tougher protection of tuna stocks

by Staff Writers
Luxembourg (AFP) Oct 27, 2008
EU fisheries ministers agreed Monday to step up protection of dwindling bluefin tuna stocks and fight illegal fishing, but stopped short of a fishing ban demanded by environmental groups.

The ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, called on the European Commission to push for a series of measures at a key international meeting next month on tuna, which are particularly threatened in the Mediterranean.

"The ministers want to move towards a much more rigorous management of this fragile species," said French Fisheries Minister Michel Barnier, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency.

He said EU countries were ready to see lower quotas, which are to be set at a regional level by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which meets in Marrakech, Morocco, on November 17-24.

The ministers were also ready to accept a shorter fishing season as well as stepped-up controls all along the process, from fishing to fattening in cages to bringing the fish to market.

However, Barnier said "the privileged idea was not that of a (fishing) ban."

In mid-June the European Commission ordered a halt to industrial fishing of bluefin tuna two weeks early, because quotas for 2008 had already been reached.

Both France and Italy opposed that decision, questioning the commission's figures and asserting that their fishing industries had not reached even half their quotas.

Environmental group Greenpeace said the incident was proof that more needed to be done to protect the species, calling for a fishing ban to allow stocks to recover.

"The ministers of France, Italy and Spain have shown they are incapable of keeping illegal fishing for bluefin tuna under control. Only a suspension of fishing can bring the bluefin tuna back from the brink of collapse," said Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace EU oceans policy director.

More than 50,000 tonnes of bluefin tuna are caught every year in the Mediterranean. To prevent stocks from collapsing, that figure should be limited to 15,000 tonnes in the short term, according to ICCAT.

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Beijing Promises Better Food Standards As Crisis Spreads
Beijing (AFP) Oct 25, 2008
Premier Wen Jiabao pledged Saturday that China's food exports would meet international norms and win the trust of people globally, promising lessons would be learnt from the nation's milk scandal.

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