Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Not in my name

From The Telegraph:

Conservationists have accused EU representatives of approving a “disastrous” plan likely to cause the collapse of the bluefin tuna, a species as endangered as the giant panda.
This year scientists had recommended slashing catch quotas by half and banning fishing in the most productive months of May, June and July to save Mediterranean stocks which they said were at “high risk of collapse”.

Representatives of the EU, speaking for all 25 member states including Britain, sided with the French and Italian tuna fishing industry and blocked the conservation plan backed by the United States and Norway.
A strong plan for East Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna was tabled early in the meeting by the US delegation - adhering closely to scientific advice - yet the EU refused to budge on its own weak proposal, according to conservationists.

They say the EU plan, finally adopted by ICCAT yesterday, is totally insufficient - with almost no reduction in total catch, and a seasonal closure which deliberately excludes the peak of spawning when most adult catches are taken.

EU fleets are responsible for the bulk of illegal catches of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean - as a WWF report published in July clearly demonstrated.

Dr Sergi Tudela, head of fisheries at WWF Mediterranean, said: “Today’s decision will go down in history as destroying the credibility of ICCAT as a regional fisheries management organisation. This is an unprecedented scandal, sounding the death knell for bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean.”

“This is a collapse plan, not a recovery plan - and a mockery of the work of scientists.

“The EU has betrayed its obligation to sustainably manage fisheries - for the sake of the short-term interests of its own bluefin tuna industry.”

Ministers and officials at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in London are known to have been deeply uncomfortable about the position taken by the EU fisheries directorate at the ICCAT meeting but their opposition to the proposal was balanced out by the support for it from fishing nations in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.

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