Monday, November 7, 2011

Tuna fished 'illegally' during Libya conflict

Evidence is emerging of unregulated and probably illegal tuna fishing in Libyan waters during this year's conflict. Signals recorded from boats' electronic "black boxes" show a large presence inside Libyan waters, a major spawning ground for the endangered bluefin tuna. Several strands of evidence, including a letter from a former industry source, suggest the involvement of EU boats. The issue will be aired this week at the annual meeting of ICCAT, which regulates tuna fishing in the region. The details on this sordid story can be seen here:

In the light of this disturbing information, WWF and Greenpeace wrote today an urgent letter to ICCAT and ICCAT contracting parties urging them to:

1. urgently, identify in a public and transparent manner the names and flags of those vessels which - according to the VMS signals transmitted to the ICCAT Secretariat - operated in 2011 inside the Libyan fisheries protection zone and the Gulf of Sirte.

2. Include such vessels and their owners in the ICCAT IUU list.

3. Formally declare as IUU any recorded catch of bluefin tuna by these vessels during 2011.

4. In case of farming of the above mentioned catches, urge the concerned farms to immediately release an equivalent amount of fish.

5. Call on ICCAT CPCs to explicitly ban any fishing in Libyan waters in 2012.

Illegal fishing on this scale in a key nursery ground for Atlantic Bluefin tuna could prove catastrophic for this recently red listed species. Sustainable Seas calls for the listing of Bluefin on CITES Appendices 1and the implementation by the EU of coastal, port and market state controls on the fishery including the black listing of IUU vessels and the immediate implementation of a fisheries restoration zone across the range of the species.

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