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Angler Bag Limit of One Fish per Boat

Feb 28,2007 SACN


European Anglers have been given a bag limit of one fish per boat (see below)
But USA anglers have successfully overturned a similar proposal after intensive lobbying (see bottom)
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Commission "ICCAT decisive measures offer realistic chance for sustainable fisheries of bluefin tuna"

“The decisive measures agreed by ICCAT today represent a realistic chance for the gradual recovery of bluefin tuna and, also importantly, for the sustainability of the fisheries, the fleets and the coastal communities involved. It is undeniable that, in the short term, the new measures will impose sacrifices on all those concerned. But, these measures are essential to the rebuilding of bluefin tuna on which the future ecological, economic and social sustainability of these fisheries depends.” Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, was commenting on the outcome of the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which ended earlier today, in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Agreement was achieved on a far reaching proposal, tabled by the EU, Algeria, Croatia, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey, on a range of urgent measures from reduced fishing possibilities, closed seasons and authorised minimum landing sizes to strengthened control measures including the setting up of an international inspection scheme on the high sea. This agreement received the support of all the Contracting Parties directly involved in the fisheries concerned.

A 15-year plan will be set up starting from 1st January 2007. This plan will be continuously reviewed to ensure its effectiveness in the light of scientific advice. The first such review will take place in 2 year's time. The main measures, many of which are being introduced for the first time, include:

  • a gradual reduction in the total allowable catch from the current 32,000 tonnes to 25,500 tonnes in 2010.
  • an important extension of the closed seasons when bluefin tuna fisheries are prohibited:
    • for large-scale pelagic longline vessels over 24 metres: from 1 June to 31 December;
    • for purse seine fishing: 1 July to 31 December;
    • for bait boats: from 15 November to 15 May;
    • for pelagic trawlers from 15 November to 15 May.
  • a substantial increase in the authorised minimum landing sizes from 10 to 30Kg.
  • a global control system which covers every step of the process, from the catch to the market through to landing, transhipping and caging operations.
  • the application of a joint international inspection scheme which, for the very first time, will allow for inspections by one contracting party of any contracting party's vessel on the high seas.
  • the registration of all vessels fishing for bluefin tuna as well as of all traps, thus allowing for a clear picture of the fishing capacity.
  • an extension of the ban on the use of aircraft to spot aggregations of bluefin tuna from one month (June) to all year.
  • a ban on transhipment of bluefin tuna at sea for the purse seiners. In addition, all landings of bluefin tuna or transfers to cages will be subject to prior notification and strict control measures.
  • recreational fisheries will now be regulated, allowing for only one bluefin tuna per fishing trip.

(SACN have spoken to the European Anglers Alliance who have confirmed with the commission that only one fish per boat will be allowed to be landed, regardless of the number of anglers in the party)

These measures come from a range of measures set out by scientists to ensure the recovery of the east Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna. According to scientists, this multiannual plan should lead to a 50% reduction in catches of juvenile tuna as well as a substantial cut in catches of adults.

The underlying causes of the current problem stem from fishing overcapacity and poor enforcement of the existing measures which have resulted in illegal fishing activities. These causes will now be tackled through the setting up of an ICCAT Working Group on overcapacity. To strengthen enforcement, control measures will now apply throughout the whole chain of activities where documentation, prior notification and real time reporting will be required. Also very important to this process will be the international inspection scheme on the high sea which will strengthen the fight against illegal fishing.

Background

The ICCAT meeting was held from 17 to 26 November. At the heart of the discussions was the need for urgent measures to eliminate overfishing on the east Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna. According to scientists, the current amount of catches is over three times the level that would provide optimum return in a sustainable way. Fleet overcapacity and lack of proper enforcement have been identified as the main factors. This trend means that the bluefin tuna stock is now at high risk of collapse.

The new multiannual plan will tackle these problems head on. Indeed, all the Contracting Parties have welcomed the new control measures which will ensure that the plan will be properly implemented and, as a result, have a chance to help rebuild bluefin tuna. The European Commission had been very clear that it would endeavour to have an effective and sustainable set of measures, involving all the Parties, and backed up by a strengthened control regime covering all stages from catches, landings and transhipment to farming and marketing.

Links

MEX/06/1117, MEX/06/1009
Joe Borg: Make or break for Bluefin tuna
http://www.iccat.int/

More Information

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2007 

RFA WINS ONE FOR ALASKA’S HALIBUT FISHERMEN

Anchorage, AK- With the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) proposing a 50 percent cut in Halibut catch for Alaska's recreational anglers, the charter boat industry in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska were facing the threat of a potentially crippling reduction.  The IPHC proposal would have reduced the state's current bag limit from two halibut per day to only one, placing a severe strain on an industry that thrives on the high demand of anglers, both resident and non-resident, seeking halibut in Alaskan waters.

Last month the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) launched an intense lobbying effort with the full force of its entire membership, including a letter writing campaign to Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.  To further reinforce their efforts, RFA officials and Capt. Greg Sutter of the Alaska Charter Association met with high level Commerce and State Department officials to ensure that IPHC's proposal would be rejected.  "Although the IPHC voted to cut our bag limit, the decision was still subject to the approval of our government", stated Capt. Greg Sutter.

Members of the sportfishing community knew that a one-fish bag limit would not only devastate Alaska's recreational and tourism industries, but also undermine the recently re-authorized Magnuson Stevens Act (MSA), which mandates that all proposed regulations consider public input.  According to RFA Executive Director Jim Donofrio, "We have fought long and hard to guarantee that decision-makers listen to and respond to the concerns of recreational anglers."

RFA continues to support and defend the rights of Alaska's sportfishermen as it has for the past twelve years.  

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