By Robyn Dixon
Nations whose fleets fish for bluefin tuna and sharks ended a meeting in South Africa without reaching agreement on action to protect critically endangered species, environmentalist groups said.
A proposal to ban fishing of the critically endangered porbeagle shark was blocked at the eight-day meeting in Cape Town of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), a body consisting of major Atlantic tuna and shark fishing nations, as well as other Atlantic coast nations, according to environmentalists who observed the meeting.
The porbeagle shark (scientific name: Lamna nasus), known for its low reproductive capacity, was listed in March by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which requires countries trading in the species to prove they are doing it sustainably after next September.
For the third time, the ICCAT nations also delayed the compulsory implementation of measures to track tuna catches electronically from ocean to port to market, a crucial measure designed to reduce rampant fraud in an industry where the amount of Atlantic bluefin tuna caught in the eastern Atlantic is 57% higher than the catch limit between 2001 and 2008, according to a 2013 study.
Critics say that until stronger measures are taken to stamp out illegal fishing and fraud, tuna catch quotas are meaningless. Much of the illegal tuna fishing, by vessels from wealthy nations such as South Korea, occurs offshore of some of the world's poorest nations in West Africa.
But ICCAT also failed to take any action to ban vessels caught fishing illegally off West Africa.
The World Wildlife Fund said last week in Cape Town, South Africa, that tuna fishing in the Atlantic was still "out of control" because of false reporting on catches. Last year, it reported that 20,000 tons of unreported tuna was sold, mainly in Japan. More....