Recreational Fishing Commissioner’s Perspective
2009 Meeting of the
International Commission for the
Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)
The following is a summary of the ICCAT
measures taken at this year’s negotiations including comments based on my
perspective (Ellen Peel) as the representative of the recreational fishing
community. Some issues raised this year will be back on the table next
year, including follow up to the first Recreational and Sportfishing Working
Group meeting with which we will need to significantly influence.
This year’s delegation members Ray Bogan, Rob Kramer and Dr. Russell
Nelson did an excellent job in helping to secure the gains we made; I appreciate
their service. I will keep you informed prior to and
after any and all inter-sessional meetings held in 2010. While
international negotiations move very slowly due to the diverse economic and
cultural priorities placed on fish and fishing by member nations, it is very
important for our
The 21st ICCAT meeting was held
Working Group on Sports & Recreational Fishing
This year’s ICCAT
negotiations were preceded by a one day inaugural session of the Working Group
on Sports and Recreational Fishing. The
So long as fish are federally managed within departments of commerce and/or agriculture, and not in conjunction with departments of natural resources or environment and with no influence from tourism departments, the stocks will be viewed solely as commodities for consumption. This paradigm must change so persuasive management and conservation strategies weight positive economic impacts, compatibility with sustaining natural resources and good user ethics rather than solely overfishing and consumption. This change will take some time, whether a listing of bluefin under the CITES treaty would help change the current paradigm; we will have to wait and see what the decision was in 2010. The Whaling Commission was once all commercial and governmental representatives, but it went through a major shift for the better of the resource, though there has been some recent back sliding. We must strongly urge anglers and tourism officials from other nations to secure seats on their nation’s delegation if at all possible. Additional socio-economic studies documenting the value of recreational sportfishing are very important and must be brought into the management and conservation arenas to bring about change.
The TAC for the
For Mediterranean swordfish a measure was adopted that requires additional catch permitting, reporting and monitoring requirements, including a fishing vessel register. Unfortunately, the proposed expansion of the time/area closure recommended by the science committee (SCRS) did not pass.
tuna was the focus species at this year’s negotiations due to a pending petition
to list it under Appendix I of the Convention on the International Trade of
Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES). Such a listing would
prohibit all international trade in the species, but would not impact fishing
within national waters. CITES meets in March 2010 to make this
determination. Scientific advice recommended a TAC between 8500 mt and
15,500 mt, with a notation that a zero quota would be best to insure a recovery
expanded time and area closures for the Mediterranean bluefin fishery was
approved that allows purse seine fishing to fish for only one month (May 15-June
15). The TAC for the years 2011-2013 are to be set at the level that will
ensure a 60% chance of rebuilding the stock by 2023. To achieve these reductions
in catch/landings, additional vessel (capacity) reductions have to be made, as
well as limits on joint fishing operations (JFO).
The western Atlantic bluefin rebuilding program was not reopened.
program was established for northern albacore through 2020 with a TAC of 28,000
mt for 2010 and 2011, which is consistent with scientific advice. The
A small reduction
in the bigeye TAC was approved down from 90,000 mt to 85,000 mt for 2010.
No agreement was reached unfortunately on a larger time and area closure in the
Bigeye thresher sharks
A prohibition on
the retention of bigeye thresher sharks was approved with an exception for
Shortfin mako sharks
No agreement was reached to benefit shortfin mako sharks for no one wanted to release their bycatch, which is the leading cause of their mortality and decline.
No agreement was reached on landing prohibitions of porbeagle sharks.
A proposal to require sharks to be landed with their fins naturally attached was also not adopted.
This year’s stock
assessment indicated the eastern stock of Atlantic sailfish is significantly
overfished, primarily from artisanal fisheries that off
As you know ICCAT nations primarily view sailfish, as well as marlin, only as bycatch species, like seabirds and sea turtles. Bycatch species do not receive the same management priority by other nations as do the commercially targeted species. The convening of the first Recreational and Sportfishing Working Group meeting raises the question whether that will help elevate the management priority of bycatch fish species? Or was it a means to try to identify and restrain the non-commercial fisheries for the bycatch species, including billfish? We have to keep pushing to insure it is the former and doesn’t become the latter. Until the priority of billfish is raised to the same as the commercially targeted species, there will be continued attempts to weaken any measures for their protection, which penalizes recreational sportfisheries.
A recent study present to our IAC and at ICCAT estimated that approximately 48,000 seabirds (various species of albatross) are killed as bycatch each year in the ICCAT fishing areas, mostly in the south Atlantic. Measures to mitigate their bycatch were considered, but not approved. It was an important step that the issue of seabird bycatch has been raised at ICCAT, again to get some consideration given to viewing species as other than consumptive commodities.
were taken by the Compliance Committee with the identification of nations that
had not complied with all the ICCAT reporting requirements. Letters of
identification and concern will be sent to these nations. Identification
is the first step required before any trade sanctions can be taken against a
Other approved proposals:
(1) application of the Kobe II strategy matrix to bluefin tuna and bigeye tuna following their stock assessments next year, this will place stock assessment outcomes within categories that should automatically result in management measures;
(2) a second meeting of the Future of ICCAT Working Group will convene in Brasilia in early 2010 to consider possible changes to the ICCAT Convention and other matters to strengthen ICCAT; and
(3) expansion of the scope of the Illegal, Unregulated and Unlicensed (IUU) vessel list to non-fishing vessels and another to expand the scope of the authorized vessel list from vessels above 24 meters to 20 meters and above.
The threat of piracy out of eastern Africa
is driving some pelagic longline vessels back from the Indian Ocean into the
Thank you for your interest and your help. If you would like to receive more issuances, please sign up on the TBF webpage at www.billfish.org.