The Spanish tuna fleet has expressed its concern over the adoption of a new measure to manage the resources of bigeye tuna in the Atlantic Ocean by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).
In this regard, it warns of the high impact that the reduction of catches of this species can have on others, such as yellowfin and skipjack, which are also targets of the fleet, due to the fact that in most of the fishing sets the three species are caught.
Bigeye tuna accounts for only 10 per cent of the catch of the Spanish tuna fleet, but shipowners estimate that a 20 per cent reduction in bigeye tuna catch (around 6,000 tonnes) would represent collateral damage of some 54,000 tonnes of tuna, yellowfin and skipjack, as well as economic losses of at least EUR 80 million (considering only the market value of these last two species, for which the purse seine is not subject to quota).
The fleet, represented in OPAGAC, emphasizes that to this what should be added is the losses in terms of activity in the canning factories, landing ports, loss of jobs or the need to scrap a considerable number of support vessels, if the ICCAT also decided to limit or eliminate the activity of these vessels (which would mean the destruction of more than 500 direct jobs, most of African sailors).
"Measures of this type would jeopardize the viability of a sector that has been working in the Atlantic Ocean since the 60s and generating economic activity in many developing countries in the region," warned OPAGAC.
According to the representatives of the Spanish tuna fleet, in the Atlantic countries in which they operate their economic activity translates into more than 15,000 direct and indirect jobs and a large investment for the creation of processing industries.
On the other hand, and according to the association, among the measures contemplated in the draft recommendations presented, the greatest concern is derived from the consequences that the distribution of fishing rights may have on the activity of the fleet.
"We doubt," says OPAGAC, "that this distribution is effective until there is a robust mechanism for limiting fishing capacity in all fleets. In this sense, any sacrifice will be useless if the ICCAT does not adopt measures to limit capacity in the Atlantic and ensures that all parties contribute to the reduction and respect the rules adopted."
For OPAGAC, based on the fact that only 10 per cent of the tropical tuna caught by the Spanish tuna fleet in the Atlantic Ocean is bigeye tuna, any decision on the management of this stock must recognize this fact and implement consequential measures to minimize the impact about other stocks. In this sense, it states that the management of tropical tunas must be designed so that the three species, of which the listing accounts for 60 per cent of the catch, yellowfin tuna 30 per cent and bigeye tuna 10 per cent, are managed jointly and effectively.