WWF requests urgent protection for Mediterranean swordfish
2016-11-12 14:53:10   copyfrom:    hits:

Mediterranean swordfish (Photo Copyright: Rene Heuzey WWF)EUROPEAN UNIONFriday, November 11, 2016,22:50 (GMT + 9)The
 

Mediterranean swordfish. (Photo Copyright: Rene Heuzey/WWF)

EUROPEAN UNION
Friday, November 11, 2016, 22:50 (GMT + 9) 

 

The conservation organisation WWF urges 48 fishing nations to end over three decades of overfishing of the Mediterranean swordfish and urgently adopt an ambitious recovery plan to avoid the collapse of the species.

The countries that are part of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), including the United States, Japan and the European Union (EU), are gathering in Vilamoura, Portugal, from 14 to 21 November to decide on management schemes for key species such as Mediterranean swordfish, bluefin tuna, and sharks.

WWF is seriously concerned about the current rate of depletion of swordfish and calls for actions to prevent the stock collapse witnessed for the Mediterranean bluefin tuna in the recent past.

“The future of the Mediterranean swordfish is seriously at risk," points out Giuseppe Di Carlo, Director of WWF's Mediterranean Marine Initiative.

Di Carlo explains that although catches have decreased by almost 50 per cent in the last twenty years, too many juveniles are caught before they can reproduce and secure the survival of the species.

“We cannot afford to delay actions and repeat the same mistake that brought bluefin tuna to the verge of collapse in the past,” the environmentalist warns.

According to ICCAT's scientific committee, swordfish stock spawning biomass (SSB) is 88 per cent lower than the levels considered safe to maintain the stock, fish catches are twice as high as they should be and 70 per cent of the fish caught is juvenile (0-3 years).

In this regard, Di Carlo urges ICCAT to implement an ambitious recovery plan for the Mediterranean swordfish to bring the stock back to a sustainable level in order to ensure the survival of large Mediterranean fisheries communities whose livelihood and prosperity depend on it.

Mediterranean swordfish is a highly valuable species for many countries in the Mediterranean and the EU fleet accounts for 75 per cent of the total catches, with Italy, Spain and Greece reporting the largest catches.

WWF calls on the European Commission and key EU fishing nations to significantly reduce the amount of swordfish caught to allow the stock to recover.

Regarding bluefin tuna, WWF acknowledges that the situation of the stock is improving and recommends to adopt a precautionary approach and maintain the current recovery plan in 2017 (23,155 tonnes).

WWF is also concerned about the fate of sharks, especially the blue and shortfin mako that are vulnerable to overfishing and urges ICCAT governments to establish long-term management plans including setting precautionary catch limits to ensure these iconic species stay in our seas.

In the NGO’s view, ICCAT should also agree on a no-shark-finning policy as well as improving compliance to existing bans that oblige fishermen to land sharks with their fin attached.

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