Canada Calls on ICCAT to Take Definitive Action to End Overfishing of Eastern Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

March 26, 2010 08:49

OTTAWA - The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, issued the following statement, at the conclusion of the Fifteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES):

"Canada's position on the management of Atlantic bluefin tuna has been clear from the beginning, reports with reference to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. We are committed to the conservation of the Atlantic bluefin tuna and we maintain that the appropriate body to manage and conserve these stocks is the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). A listing under CITES would not have prevented the ongoing overfishing of the Eastern and Mediterranean stock, where the most urgent protection is needed, as fishers would have continued to fish at high levels to meet domestic demand in the European Union and elsewhere.

As such, Canada supports the final outcome of the CITES Conference of Parties, but views it first and foremost as a call to action. The state of the Eastern and Mediterranean stocks is dire, and we share the concerns of the international scientific community in this regard.

Canada has acted on these concerns and today, our Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery can be considered the best managed fishery of its kind in the world. We expect no less from all the other parties to ICCAT, and we intend to hold them accountable.

CITES parties who opposed the listing are also ICCAT parties. Therefore, we now look to ICCAT parties to continue to strengthen conservation and management measures and live up to their commitments and obligations, particularly those parties with the greatest harvesting and import levels. 

ICCAT Members made important progress at their last annual general meeting in November 2009, but more action is needed to keep the momentum. Most importantly, ICCAT Members, particularly those who fish Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna, must take concrete and decisive action on conservation and management, adhere to ICCAT scientific advice, and help put an end to overfishing.

This will require political will on all sides, and I intend to engage my counterparts in ICCAT, beginning today, to ensure that the next annual meeting lives up to the world's expectations and the commitments made in Doha to rebuild this most important stock."

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