Last year, Canada was the primary proponent for an increase in western Atlantic bluefin tuna quota at the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), despite a domestic process to review this tuna species for listing under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA). Canada and the other 46 ICCAT members will meet this week in Cape Town, South Africa to decide on the quotas for the 2014 fishing year, as well as shark management measures and decreasing illegal fishing for ICCAT fisheries.
“We were dismayed at Canada’s position last year. Fishing more quota and endangered species status for the same species simply do not go hand in hand,” said Katie Schleit, Marine Campaign Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “We’re optimistic, however, that they won’t do the same thing again this year. Canadians really care about Atlantic bluefin and are expecting the government to do the right thing for the future of the bluefin population, which can only benefit Canadians in the future.”
Canadian scientist designated Atlantic bluefin tuna as endangered in 2011. The assessment by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), found that the Canadian population has declined by 69% in less than 45 years with overfishing as the largest threat to population recovery. A preliminary decision whether or not to list the species is expected from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in 2014.
ICCAT scientists determined that the western population of Atlantic Bluefin has declined to 36% of 1970 levels and while recent assessments are starting to show a reverse in this decline, in 2012 and 2013 ICCAT scientists recommended that quotas be maintained at 1750 metric tonnes as the best way to ensure that the population continues to grow.
But bluefin tuna management is not all that’s at stake this year. Proposals will also likely be tabled on needed protections for porbeagle, shortfin mako and blue sharks, as well as a measure requiring countries to land sharks with their fins attached. Such measures have been tabled, but not approved at past ICCAT meetings, with Canada often objecting. More....