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Canary Islands Procures 49-Ton Bluefin Tuna Quota

The Spanish Government has guaranteed the Independent Community of the Canary Islands a fishing quota of 49 tons of bluefin tuna this year.

This was decided at a meeting between the Canary Islands fishing guilds and organizations, according to a statement by the head of the Sea Secretariat Genera, a dependency of the Ministry of Environment, Rural and Maritime Affairs (MARM), and the councilor of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishing and Food of the Canary government.

The tuna quota for the Canary Islands vessels in 2008 was 60 tons of tuna, however, they only captured eight tons.

The meeting held in the Canary Islands was described as "very satisfactory”, according to Mr. Martin, head of the Sea Secretariat General. "The issues raised are those in reference to the bluefin tuna fishery; the implementation of a fishing agreement between Spain and Portugal on Canary fleet access to Madeira and Azores Island waters; the regulation of all Canary Islands fisheries under a single framework; and other questions like marine reserve actions, in particular that of La Graciosa island," he indicated.

This year, the Atlantic fishing ban fixed for live bait and rod fleets will take place between 15 November and 15 June 2010, and will not affect Canary Island fishers.

Mr. Martin committed to analyzing the possibility of increasing the quantity of authorized boats for the fishing of red tuna "within the limit of capture assigned to the Canary Islands".

In early April, the 27 member-states of the European Union (EU) approved the Bluefin Tuna Recovery Plan in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, which restricts fishing in those waters.

The Plan, ratified by the EU’s Council of Ministers of Justice in Luxembourg, includes measures like the extension of prohibitions and controls in markets, at sea and in fattening farms. It establishes a total allowable catch (TAC) for the European fleet of 12,406 tons of bluefin tuna in 2009, which is significantly below the 16,210 tons authorized for last year. Of that total, 4,116 tons will be for Spanish vessels, the European fleet that targets the most bluefin tuna. This quota is 24 per cent below that of the 2008 quota.

The Spanish Oceanography Institute (IEO) had also recently carried out a scientific evaluation on the effects of Canary Island fleet fishing in Madeira and Azores waters, Mr. Martin stated.  "The report states that Canary Islands traditional fishing incidence is non-existent and, therefore, it would be possible to have the activity developed," he commented. "Soon, the fisheries directors of both countries, Spain and Portugal, will meet to relaunch this agreement and determine if the Canary Islands fleet can return to a traditional fishing-ground. For the first time ever, an agreement was reached with another country to allow this to happen," he added.