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Tuna: Conservation

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer of 18 November 2008, Official Report, column 312W, on tuna: conservation, what progress was made on agreeing enhanced control measures at the meeting; what assessment he has made of their effectiveness; and if he will make a statement. (242840)

The revised blue fin tuna management plan which was agreed at the 16th Special meeting of International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) contains a number of enhanced management measures. These include:

Extensions to the closure periods of the fishery for purse seiners, long liners and pelagic trawlers as well as to recreational and sports fishermen;

A ban on the transhipment of blue fin tuna at sea;

An obligation on each contracting party operating in the fishery to institute a capacity reduction management plan covering both vessels and farms;

Transfers of blue fin tuna between vessels or from vessels to cages will not be allowed with the prior permission of the contracting party of the flag vessel which initially caught the fish;

All vessels operating in the blue fin tuna fishery, be they catching vessels, tug boats or transport vessels, must be registered with ICCAT before they can operate;

All vessels over 15 metres operating in the fishery must be equipped with vessel monitoring systems, 20 per cent. of each category of vessel operating in the fishery must have on board observers, all purse seiners and vessels transferring tuna to cages must have observers operating under a regional programme or their activities will not be authorised.

Furthermore, ICCAT will hold an inter-sessional meeting of the compliance committee in the first quarter of 2009, where all contracting parties with blue fin tuna quotas must demonstrate that they can fully comply with the control measures contained in the management plan. If they are unable to do so the Compliance Committee can vote, by simple majority, to suspend the quotas for individual contracting parties until they are able to demonstrate full compliance.

When the amended management plan was presented to the ICCAT meeting, the only contracting party to object was Libya. I consider the plan has the confidence of the vast majority of ICCAT contracting parties and therefore should be effective given the collective will for it to succeed.