ICCAT Increases Protection for Bluefin Tuna, Swordfish and Sharks, But Is It Enough?
A Step in the Right Direction, But We Need More!The Earth's oceanic ecosystems are under tremendous pressure from over-fishing. Every time I look at the efforts to protect fisheries, I'm afraid that we might be doing too little, too late, and that by taking only small steps now, we're kicking the can down the road until one day our problems because much harder to solve.
Still, any good news in this area is welcome, and the latest positive development concerns a decision by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to reinforce some protection measures that affect mostly bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean.
The biggest change to the status quo will be the creation of an electronic catch-tracking system for bluefin tuna. The current paper-based system is very open to abuse, so much so that "a report from the Pew Environment Group last month showed that last year 140% more bluefin meat entered the market from the Mediterranean than was declared". One potential big hole in the new system, though, is that it won't track tuna farms. This means that they can be used to 'launder' illegal catches made in the open sea. This loophole must be closed as soon as possible!
The ICCAT also increased protection for silky shark and swordfish, but protection for the porbeagle shark was refused and illegal fishing for bluefin tuna in Libyan waters during the civil conflict there wasn't on the agenda - it will only be addressed at a future meeting.