Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

November 16, 2009 14:33 ET

Minister Shea Continues to Press ICCAT to Protect Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 16, 2009) - The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) held its annual meeting in Brazil from November 6-15, 2009. 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 at the conclusion of the meeting.

"ICCAT has finally shown a commitment to protect the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna (EBFT) stock from overfishing and illegal fishing. The Government of Canada pressed for strong measures at this year's annual meeting and is optimistic at members' recognition that decisive action in favour of sustainable management of Atlantic bluefin tuna is needed.

"ICCAT members have adopted a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the EBFT fishery of 13,500t, which falls within the science advice. Additionally, the fishing season for purse seine vessels, which account for the majority of catches in this fishery, has been cut in half from two months to one. ICCAT has also shown the willingness to take action against members who do not comply with agreed upon management measures. Members must now act on their commitments and ensure fishing fleets fully comply with the agreed TAC, quotas, and related management measures. Those ICCAT members failing to comply must face severe penalties.

"In the past, Canada has been disappointed that the advice of science was not being followed by members and that overfishing continued, particularly in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. ICCAT has in place a program to effectively track and control the trade of bluefin and we have already begun to see improved monitoring and enforcement against illegal fishing activities. Our Government continues to encourage all members to act on their commitment to take steps to better manage the stocks.

"Canada's Western Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery respects the principles of the precautionary approach, follows scientific advice and is a model of sustainable management. We have limited the number of Canadian licenses for years and every fish caught in the Canadian fishery is tagged and can be tracked to market.

"ICCAT has also agreed to continued management measures for North Atlantic Swordfish, a stock that has been successfully rebuilt. Canada's quota for this stock will be 1,473t for 2010, which is slightly increased from 2009.

"The Government of Canada is leading the way and remains committed to sustainable fishing practices, based on sound conservation and management principles. Ensuring ongoing economic opportunities for fishers will require determination and short-term sacrifice by all those fishing the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean in order to protect our bluefin tuna fisheries over the long term."

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