Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

November 04, 2009 11:53 ET

Canada Calls on ICCAT to Take Action to Protect Bluefin Tuna From Illegal Fishing Activities

Statement by Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 4, 2009) - The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is holding its annual meeting from November 6-15, 2009 in Brazil. ICCAT is the regional fisheries management organization responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas. The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans today issued the following statement ahead of this year's annual meeting.

"Our Government is committed to sustainable fishing practices that contribute to healthy fish stocks and economic opportunities for fishers. We believe that conservation and management of fish stocks is best achieved through a combination of effective domestic, regional, and international fisheries management. However, that means regional fisheries management organizations, or RFMOs, such as ICCAT must manage their fisheries sustainably.

"In Canada, our fishery for the Western Atlantic bluefin tuna stock respects the principles of the precautionary approach and follows the scientific advice from ICCAT to ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishery. The number of Canadian bluefin tuna fishing licenses has been limited for years and every fish caught in the Canadian fishery is individually tagged and tracked to market.

"That is not the case in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, where the bluefin tuna stock is under significant threat from overfishing and other illegal fishing activities. Canada is disappointed that the science advice is not being followed and calls on all ICCAT members to take concrete decisions on conservation and management at the next annual meeting.

"Failure by ICCAT to take immediate action could have serious and long-term consequences for all bluefin tuna fisheries. While ICCAT has in place a program to effectively track and control the trade of Bluefin, some parties have indicated that they are prepared to take steps to further restrict commercial trade of bluefin tuna, particularly if ICCAT members fail to take decisions that reduce overfishing and illegal fishing.

"Our Government will continue to support bluefin tuna management decisions based on science and the precautionary approach, as well as work with our international partners to press ICCAT for tough actions to end overfishing of bluefin in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean."

For more information about Canada's commitment to the sustainability of tuna and tuna-like species fisheries, visit You can also follow the Department on Twitter at

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Alain Belle-Isle
    Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Office of the Minister
    Nancy Bishay
    Press Secretary