Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

November 19, 2007 18:22 ET

Canada Concerned About Lack of Action to Protect Tuna Stocks

Statement by Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 19, 2007) - I am concerned that the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) has failed to adopt measures to reverse the decline of bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

The 45 members of ICCAT met last week in Turkey. Canada's top priority was to press ICCAT members to support a moratorium on the eastern bluefin tuna fishery to deal with overfishing in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. In the end, ICCAT adopted a watered-down proposal for a voluntary stakeholder workshop to be held in March 2008 to discuss the future management of this fishery. Members also agreed to submit to ICCAT by February 2008 their implementation plans for eastern bluefin recovery.

I am disappointed that the majority of ICCAT members did not incorporate the most basic principle of fisheries management - adhering to the advice of scientists - into the measures they adopted.

The only positive outcome was an agreement by ICCAT members to adopt a catch documentation scheme to trace domestic and exported bluefin tuna from the point of catch to market. This is a first for a tuna regional fisheries management organization, and it is my hope that it will stop the misreporting of eastern bluefin tuna catches that is putting this stock in peril. But this is only one part of the solution: we also need serious cuts to the total allowable catch, and honesty on the part of fish harvesters.

Canada and the United States stood for conservation of eastern bluefin tuna at this ICCAT meeting. The fact that so many fishing nations have chosen to stand in the way of progress is a discredit to international fisheries governance and high seas fish stocks.

Our Government will not stand idly by while this bluefin tuna stock continues to be overfished. We will re-evaluate our approach to reforming tuna regional fisheries management organizations, including ICCAT, to see how we can effect immediate changes. This may include taking action external to the ICCAT commission.

Loyola Hearn

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Genevieve Gareau-Lavoie
    Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Steve Outhouse
    Director of Communications, Office of the Minister