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ICCAT Slashes Atlantic Blue-fin Tuna Fishing Quota

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) on Monday decided to reduce the annual Atlantic blue-fin tuna fishing quota to about one-third of the current levels after the international body failed to reach a consensus on imposing a complete ban on Tuna fishing during a meeting in Recife, Brazil.

The new ICCAT decision allows the fishing of 13,500 tonnes of bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean this year, almost two-thirds of the earlier permitted 19,950 tonnes. It also reduces the fishing season of seine ships, which use nets to encircle and trap shoals of blue-fin tuna, by a month.

Despite the rising international concerns over dwindling blue-fin Tuna stocks because of overfishing in the Mediterranean and Atlantic, the ICCAT said Monday that imposing a total ban on blue-fin Tuna would would encourage illegal fishing.

However, international conservation groups have criticized the ICCAT decision, pointing out that scientists across the world have warned that the blue-fin tuna stock has fallen to almost 15% of its pre-industrial-fishing levels. They argue that only a total ban on blue-fin tuna fishing would ensure that the lucrative fish could recover to the point where the fishery could exist in the future.

The U.S.-based Pew Environment Group condemned the ICCAT's failure to enforce a total ban on blue-fin tuna fishing and described the international body as an organization "driven by short-term commercial fishing interests," the Greenpeace said that the ICCAT has "failed once again to act beyond the interests of a few tuna fishing and farming industries" by approving "recommendations which fail to ensure the recovery of Atlantic blue-fin tuna."

by RTT Staff Writer

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