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Compean: “IATTC Won’t Change Its Recommendation”

The Director of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), Guillermo Compean, spoke with Atuna.com about the new conservation measures agreed last Friday in order to recover bigeye stocks in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Even though the 59 days tuna fishing closure for 2009, 62 days for 2010 and 73 days for 2011 were way lower than the recommendations by IATTC scientific staff (12 weeks annual closure), Mr. Compean is satisfied with the results.

Nevertheless, he made a point in clarifying that those measures are not set in stone. They can be changed and IATTC scientific recommendation will remain the same, even though negotiations with member countries may bend that.

For more information on the conservation measures agreed for the EPO, read the article “IATTC Agrees On 59 To 73 Days EPO Tuna Fishing Bans”, online at Atuna.com

Atuna.com: Could you share the discussions developments that lead to the consensus on the last IATTC meeting?

Guillermo Compean: The consensus was reached as a referendum, which means that some countries still have to give their positive answer, even though the measures were accepted. The only country that asked for that was Colombia. They needed to further discuss the conservation resolution with members of their tuna industry. However, the resolution agreed is very similar to the IATTC staff proposal.

59 closure days are a lot less than the initial 84 days recommended by the scientific staff. How did the scientists react to the resolution?

Well, we are not changing our recommendation. The problem is that during the negotiations it’s common that member countries change that.

When is the next IATTC meeting?

The next meeting will take place in September 2010.

The resolution says that in 2011 there might be a revision of the duration of the tuna fishing closure. Why not before?

In September of 2010, once we have the results of the first closure, changes could be made in increasing or decreasing the closure period. For example, the situation of yellowfin tuna stocks may be recovered in one year. Our intention is to reduce juvenile bigeye catches and next year we will be able to know better how exactly that can be done – it can be done in many ways.

This was the third meeting before conservation measures for bigeye was established. What do you think it made this meeting different from the others?

We were only short in conservation measures for one year, 2008. It’s true that we had several meetings during 2007/2008 and no consensus was reached. In all these meetings, the discussion was very complicated. The difference from previous meetings and now, I think it’s the fact that parties are more concerned about the tuna stocks situation. I’m not sure if the reason for that was the fact that our (IATTC scientific staff) presentation was more clear, direct and precise about bigeye’s stocks situation. We were able to answer many technical doubts about assessment models, and I think that may have helped.

This new resolution brings something new, which is allowing class 4 boats 30 days of fishing with observers on board.

Yes, but those small boats are very few – only 67 vessels. And also, during the closure, those vessels are not going to be able to fish in foreign waters unless they have a license/permit for that.

Were you happy with the results of the meeting?

Yes, very happy we could issue a resolution. And I’m sure that later Colombia will reach consensus and that the member countries will follow and respect the agreement. I think the results will benefit everyone. The tuna stocks, of course, but also the industry. It’s good for business if the supply of tuna can be somehow more regular.

One last question, was anything decided on the tuna-certification system discussed at the AIDCP meeting?

We presented to the members a document with some guidelines of a possible certification system and I believe that in a very short future we will have more concrete things to talk about.