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EU Finally Tightens Bluefin Tuna Fishing Rules

European Union countries adopted new rules Monday to help restore endangered bluefin tuna stocks in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, bringing the bloc into line with international standards.

The rules introduce “significant cuts” in bluefin tuna quotas by 2011.

It shortens the period in which the species can be fished by four months. The season begins on April 15.

They impose a freeze on fishing capacity to 2007-2008 levels and tighten laws on sport and recreational fishing.

Imports and exports of fish caught outside the quota system will also be banned.

Controls and inspections will be beefed up.

“The deal was reached after difficult negotiations” and agreed on by all 27 member nations, the EU’s Czech presidency said in a statement, adding that it would ensure “the 2009 fishing season will be governed by new, stricter rules”.

The move is in line with standards set last November by nations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which unites 46 major fishing nations from Japan to the United States and Norway.