Oceana, the world’s largest international ocean conservation organization, released the following statement today from chief scientist and head-of-delegation Dr. Michael Hirshfield.
“The stakes are high today as the 17th Special Meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) begins in Paris, France. Oceana is calling ICCAT’s bluff: Restore depleted bluefin tuna and shark populations.
Inaction threatens ICCAT’s credibility. ICCAT and the 48 major fishing countries of the Atlantic Ocean have a responsibility to protect these species and have committed to doing so. We can not continue to let the demand for sharks and bluefin tuna drive these populations toward extinction. Immediate and proper international management is needed now or we will empty the oceans of these top predators and vastly change the oceans as we know them today.
ICCAT should also be accountable for managing swordfish and protecting sea turtles. Oceana applauds the United States for its proposal to reduce sea turtle mortality in ICCAT fisheries and require sea turtle interactions to be reported. This is a great first step in the battle to protect a vulnerable species.
The attendance of Dr. Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was also a sign of the importance of this meeting. Oceana hopes the next ten days are not wasted playing ‘politics.’ The science is clear and it is time to get to work.”
For more information about ICCAT, bluefin tuna, sharks, swordfish and sea turtles, and for downloadable images, please visit www.oceana.org/ICCAT.