, BRUSSELS, Nov 16 – An international agreement to cut bluefin tuna catches by 40 percent next year is a clear sign that the world sees the magnitude of the problem, the European Commission said on Monday.
The deal, championed by the European Union, was made at talks of the international organisation in charge of the management of Atlantic tuna (ICCAT) in Brazil, where it was agreed that the fishing season for boats using the massive purse seiners would be cut to one month.
The EU, which covers waters providing a main source for the widely consumed tuna, also asked ICCAT members to follow its example and seek to cut blue fin fishing in half by 2011.
On top of that the option to suspend the season entirely will "remain open" in case there is "a serious threat of fishery collapse," the EU commission said in a statement.
The willingness to reach consensus after a week of "intense negotiations… is a clear sign that the international community acknowledges the scale and magnitude of the problem and is ready and willing to work constructively" with scientists and environmentalists to protect fragile stocks and therefore the fishing industry, the commission statement said.
However environmentalists warned that bluefin tuna was on its way to extinction after the international talks.
"After meeting for 10 days, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) refused to end fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna," the Pew Environment Group, a US organization that sat on in the meeting in Recife, Brazil, said in a statement.
Under the ICCAT deal, next year’s next year’s total allowable catch for bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean regions, will drop from 22,000 tonnes to 13,500 tonnes.