Vilamoura, Portugal — The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has today finalised its one-week long negotiations between 51 countries. ICCAT has finally agreed on a recovery plan for the severely depleted Mediterranean swordfish, which has been overfished for over 30 years. The plan includes a modest reduction of catches and the adoption of a quota system, enforced by monitoring and control measures to prevent illegal fishing and improve transparency in the swordfish fishery management and trade. However, the level in catch reduction agreed is much lower than what scientists had advised and could still put this stock at risk.
“The plan today comes over a decade too late. Throughout this time, Oceana has been sounding the alarm for a much-needed recovery plan for Mediterranean swordfish,” said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director for Oceana in Europe. “We welcome this paradigm shift for Mediterranean swordfish and for Mediterranean stocks in general, which are over 90% overfished. But, on World Fisheries Day, we would have hoped for a stronger recovery plan. Sadly, the plan is too weak, too far from scientific advice and still puts the stock at risk”.
The plan was proposed by the EU, which has 75% of Mediterranean swordfish catches. It includes a total allowable catch (TAC) of 10,500 tonnes for 2017 and then a 15% reduction in catches between 2018-2022. The individual TAC for the Mediterranean Contracting Parties will be agreed in early 2017.