The independent panel(1) was
commissioned by ICCAT to review its performance following concerns
raised by the international community about the management of tuna
fisheries resources. In a very strong and direct recommendation,
the Panel asks for "the suspension of fishing of bluefin tuna in
the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean until countries fully comply
with ICCAT's recommendations on bluefin". Such a closure is seen by
the Panel as "the only way to stop the continuation of what is seen
by observers and by other contracting party countries as a travesty
in fisheries management".
The Panel found that the management of the Mediterranean bluefin
tuna fisheries was "unacceptable and not consistent with the
objectives of ICCAT", such as the objective of guaranteeing that
fish populations do not dwindle to unsustainable levels.
In addition to immediate suspension of the fishery, the Panel
also recommended the immediate closure of all known bluefin tuna
spawning grounds, at least during known spawning periods. This is
in line with Greenpeace demands for the closure of the fishery and
the creation of no-take marine reserves to protect crucial breeding
areas in the Mediterranean Sea. Also needed are minimum size limits
to allow the species to breed before being caught, fishing and
farming capacities scaled back to sustainable quota levels, and the
elimination of pirate fishing.
The Panel attributed the failure of ICCAT management largely due
to the lack of implementation of existing regulations by its
contracting party countries (2). However, some problems lie
deeper than enforcement of rules. The review drew attention not
only to the illegal catch, but also to the fact that the quota set
by ICCAT was 29,500 tonnes - almost twice the 15,000 limit
recommended by its own scientific committee. As the Panel put it,
"it is difficult to describe this as responsible fisheries
management and it reflects negatively not only on ICCAT but on all
"Fisheries Ministers are failing to protect single species, let
alone marine ecosystems. What kind of management organisation
ignores the advice of its own scientists and set quotas that
condemn the very species it is responsible for??" asked Sebastián
Losada, Greenpeace Spain oceans campaigner. "This report signals
that it is time for ICCAT members to take responsibility for the
fishery that has brought tuna to near-collapse or be relieved of
its management altogether.
In November, ICCAT members will review the current bluefin tuna
management plan. Greenpeace demands that they follow the
recommendations of the Panel and close the fishery until capacity
is decreased, spawning grounds protected and compliance
"Until they do, bodies like ICCAT will continue to fail in its
responsibilities, and reflect only the short-term interests of an
industry that is fishing itself to death," Losada concluded.
Other contacts: Sebastián Losada, Greenpeace Spain oceans campaigner:
+34 626 998 254
Greenpeace International press desk: +31 20 718 2470
Notes: (1) The panel consisted of Glenn Hurry, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and current Chairman of the West and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), Moritaka Hayashi, Professor (now emeritus) of International Law, Waseda University, Japan and Jean-Jacques Maguire, a well-known and respected fisheries scientist from Canada.
(2) The Panel stated: "A simple reading of the state of the stocks under ICCAT's purview would suggest that ICCAT has failed in its mandate as a number of these key fish stocks are well below MSY. However, the Panel is of the view that rather than ICCAT failing in its mandate it is ICCAT that has been failed by its members."
(3) Regional Fisheries Management Organisations
Contact information for ICCAT