Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna is a species whose overfishing over the last several decades is inexorably leading to its extinction. The species is of true heritage value for our region, not only from a biological point of view, but also in relation to the cultural and traditional customs it has generated since earliest antiquity.
On the initiative of its Sovereign, the Principality has launched a campaign for the conservation of this species. Initial measures were focused on its use in the national territory; a moratorium was consequently implemented in liaison with retailers and restaurants owners.
The bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) is found in the whole North Atlantic region, in its contiguous seas and in particular the Mediterranean, from the Equator to Northern Norway, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Black Sea.
Between 1957 and 2007, the numbers dropped by an estimated 74.2% in North Africa and the Mediterranean, with the highest decrease occurring in the last few years (60.9%). If fishing were to continue at the current rate, we can expect an 18% decrease in the North African stock compared to 1970, i.e. 6% of the existing stock
In July 2008, a new assessment of the stock by scientists from the ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) estimated that the Total Allowable Catch for the Mediterranean and the Eastern Atlantic should be between 8 500 and 15 000 tons and that fishing during the mating season (May, June, July) should be prohibited. However, in November 2008 the ICCAT member states accepted 22,000 and 19,500 tons respectively for 2009 and 2010, whilst fishing is still allowed during the first half of the mating season, from 1st May to 20th June, a period when most fish is caught.
At this juncture, it is clearly time to take action at the level of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). As the population status of this species has exceeded the level where listing it in Appendix II of the Convention (regulated trade) would have been sufficient, it has now unfortunately become necessary to include it in Appendix I (prohibition of international trade).
The Principality will request that the species be added to the list at the meeting between Contracting Parties in Doha in mid March 2010.
The State services, with the support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and MC2D, have been involved in this task for several months. The procedure for inclusion on the list has just been launched and has begun with a consultation of the states in the zone where the species is found and those with fishing quotas declared to the ICCAT.
Comments from this consultation will be used for the final proposal which will be submitted for the signature of countries that wish to join forces with the Principality at the beginning of October.
For further information, please contact Mr Patrick Van Klaveren, Minister Counsellor, Permanent Representative to International Organisation of a scientific, environmental or humanitarian nature.
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