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News Line: Bluefin, bigeye tuna quotas cut

ICCAT decision rankles U.S., environmental groups

 - Photo by Steven Hedlund
- James Wright
January 01, 2009

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas last month reduced the 2009 bluefin tuna quota to 22,000 metric tons, a level the United States and several environmental groups say is not nearly enough to save the species from collapse in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

A U.S. delegation to the ICCAT meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, urged the international body of 45 nations and the European Commission to cut catch levels from 29,000 metric tons to about 15,000 metric tons. Much of the tuna harvested from the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean ends up in Japan.

"I am extremely disappointed with the results of this meeting," says Dr. Rebecca Lent, head of the U.S. delegation and director of international affairs at the National Marine Fisheries Service. "While the commission followed the recommendation to reduce catch levels for the western stock consistent with the science, it continues to put the species as a whole in jeopardy by authorizing excessive fishing levels on the eastern stock."

"ICCAT's string of successive failures leaves us little option now but to seek effective remedies through trade measures and extending the boycott of retailers, restaurants, chefs and consumers," adds Sergi Tudela, Mediterranean fisheries program leader for World Wildlife Fund.

The catch level for the western Atlantic stock was reduced from 2,100 metric tons to 1,800 metric tons by 2010. This much-smaller stock is harvested by the United States, Canada, Mexico and Japan. - J.W.



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