The Spanish tuna fishing sector has demanded effective controls on Atlantic Ocean stocks given the threat posed by uncontrolled Asian fleet. Photo: OPAGAC

The Spanish tuna fishing sector has demanded effective controls on Atlantic Ocean stocks given the threat posed by uncontrolled Asian fleet. Photo: OPAGAC

The Spanish tuna fleet demands effective control of the fishing capacity and effort in the Atlantic Ocean, given the threat posed by the uncontrolled entry of Asian fleets into the tropical tuna fishery for the sustainability of the stocks.

The tuna sector has made this demand before the celebration this week of the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). It also requests that the Bigeye Total Allowable Catch (TAC) be increased to 75,000 tonnes, since this species is recovering after years of application of management measures, and reduce the current ban on fishing with fish concentrating devices (FAD) set at 72 days.

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According to the Organization of Associated Producers of Large Freezer Tuna Vessels (OPAGAC), the effectiveness of the conservation and management measures applied to tropical tuna populations by ICCAT in 2021 and the sacrifice made by fleets that respect the law could be spoiled. if the regulatory body continues to not know exactly the number of vessels that currently catch tropical tuna in the Atlantic.

In the opinion of this fleet, the capacity limit should be applied to the fleets of great powers so as not to impede the development of those belonging to coastal nations such as the African ones. “Our fleet makes explicit reference to the massive entry of Asian capital purse seine vessels flagged in countries such as Liberia, Guinea-Conakry or the Ivory Coast, whose control of fishing activity is very lax.”

Japanese and South Korean fishing vessels such as the Manu target bluefin tuna 215 miles off the west coast of Ireland. Photo Nendo

Japanese and South Korean fishing vessels such as the Maru target bluefin tuna 215 miles off the west coast of Ireland. Photo: Nendo

On the other hand, OPAGAC justifies its request to relax the ban on FAD fishing by placing the yellowfin and bigeye tuna catches in 2021 below the TACs set for that year and thus mitigating the loss of profitability of the fleet. In order to maintain a precautionary approach, the fleet requests a closure of a maximum of 45 days, so that the increase in the TAC is complemented by the relaxation of certain measures.

Specifically, and according to preliminary figures, the catch of yellowfin tuna in the Atlantic, in 2021, was at the level of the TAC, established at 110,000 tons. For their part, bigeye tuna catches would have reached 46,000 tons, considerably below the limit of 62,000 tons established for last year, and notably below the TAC of 75,000 tons proposed by the fleet. Regarding this last species, it should be noted that the added pressure on the stock due to the entry of new vessels flagged in third countries, mainly Asian, forced ICCAT to establish a 15-year recovery program (2020-2034).

For its part, the catch level of the eastern skipjack, the third target species of the Spanish fleet, would stand at 197,000 tons in 2021, well below the recommendation of 217,000 tons. This demonstrates, in the opinion of our fleet, the positive impact on this population of the management measures applied to the other two stocks. In this sense, OPAGAC reiterates the importance that the management of the three tropical tuna species be designed jointly, so that the management of one population contemplates the application of consistent measures to minimize the impact on the other two.

Source: Press Release

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Uncontrolled Asian fleet threaten Atlantic Ocean tuna stocks

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