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Environmentalists Slam EU Over Tuna Catch Deal

Date: 28-Nov-06
Country: ITALY

At the end of a 10-day meeting ICCAT, the global body which oversees the rules for tuna fishing, reduced the quota for the amount of tuna that can be landed, but to nowhere near the levels recommended by the body's own scientists.

WWF said the European Union had blocked a tougher deal and was responsible for what it said was the inevitable collapse in the Mediterranean of a fish which grows up to two metres long and can fetch $100,000 because of its value in Japan as a raw delicacy.

"The decision sounds the death knell for bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean," said Sergi Tudela of campaign group WWF (formerly the World Wildlife Fund) at the end of the meeting of ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

The ICCAT deal reduces the annual bluefin fishing quota gradually to 25,500 tonnes in 2010 from the current 32,000 tonnes, compared with a recommendation by ICCAT scientists to slash it to 15,000 tonnes.

"This is a collapse plan, not a recovery plan," Tudela said.

EU fisheries commissioner Joe Borg said the package of measures would be effective in protecting the bluefin tuna.

"These measures are essential to the rebuilding of bluefin tuna on which the future ecological, economic and social sustainability of these fisheries depends," Borg said in a statement.

But EU member France said the measures were not effective and would penalise legal fisheries in favour of poachers.

"It does not fulfil the conditions of a sufficiently effective fight against illegal fishing, in particular the lack of effective measures to follow up on all the ships fishing in the Mediterranean," Farm Minister Dominique Bussereau said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by David Evans in Paris)

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