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Tuna Commission to decide the future of Mediterranean bluefin

Marrakech, Morocco, November 17, 2008 The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) will meet from November 17- 24 in Marrakech, Morocco to make decisions on measures to save Mediterranean bluefin tuna from collapse.

ICCAT meets this year with mounting evidence of the impending collapse, with its own review panel saying management of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery is an "international disgrace" and a "travesty." WWF has called for the fishery to be shut down until rampant overfishing can be brought under control and has been joined by increasing numbers of scientists, governments and industry leaders.

"Bluefin populations across the Atlantic are poised for collapse, but the free-for-all in the Mediterranean has focused the world's attention," said Mark Stevens, senior fisheries officer at WWF-US. "Government members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently expressed their overwhelming support for the immediate closure of the Mediterranean bluefin fishery in a resolution at the World Conservation Congress in October."

WWF calls on ICCAT Contracting Parties to be bold in supporting the closure, with a view to a sustainable fishery in the long term. Once the Mediterranean bluefin has initiated recovery, WWF is advocating new management measures that must include:

  • A seasonal closure during the key spawning months of May, June and July;
  • Tuna sanctuaries in main Mediterranean breeding areas;
  • Annual total allowable catches in line with scientific advice; and
  • A reduction in capacity of industrial fleets.

"Decisions that happen at this week's ICCAT meeting will determine the fate of bluefin tuna populations. Their demise would not only mean the loss of a magnificent species, but would be devastating to the marine ecosystem and drastically affect the livelihoods of thousands of people who depend on bluefin tuna fisheries." said Stevens.


Contact: Erika Viltz
World Wildlife Fund

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