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Spain: “No Excuses For Not Increasing Bluefin Quota”

The Spanish tuna industry is defying scientific recommendations to ICCAT, and leading attempts to win a considerable rise in the bluefin tuna quota. Spanish Fisheries Minister, Miguel Arias Cañete, will be calling for an increase in the Total Allowable Catch of bluefin at the annual ICCAT meeting, commencing today in South Africa.

Going against the advice of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) scientists, Spain is demanding growth from the current 13,400 ton quota for Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna catch. Scientists recommend the Commission to maintain the current limit.

Cañete said: “The industry has made a very responsible implementation of the recovery plan for bluefin tuna stock. It has been subject to sacrifices for many years, but this plan has worked out and all scientific studies suggest that the situation is much better. This Government supports and praises the large-scale fishing for bluefin tuna.”

A study carried out last year by scientists showed that bluefin tuna, for the first time, was showing signs of recovery. However, scientists outlined that the evidence was too unclear to be sure. 

Dismissing cautions, Cañete insisted that “Recovery is a reality” and went on to say that Spain “will not accept excuses for this” and will request a significant 14 percent increase in the bluefin catch quota.

The Spanish industry’s dismissal of scientific recommendation has riled some environmental and conservation groups that feel that the current bluefin quota should not be increased before it is known for sure that a recovery is evident, to protect the future of an at-risk species.

Dr. Sergi Tudela of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Spain described the Minister’s approach to the matter as “politics not science” and said: “For us it’s extremely clear. Anyone can download the update report and see the scientists are recommending not to increase the quota.”