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Jul 17 - GONHS Raises Concerns About Tuna Fishing

GONHS has raised concern about tuna fishing in Gibraltar waters after the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Climate Change recently announced a temporary suspension to the 2017 Tuna Open Season, from the 16th July to the 6th August 2017.
 
A spokesman for GONHS said: "The department's given rationale is that this will extend the season to the latter part of the summer, as catches have been high in the early part of the season, exceeding nine tonnes after four weeks.

"GONHS notes that the DEHCC appears to be implementing the suspension in order to extend tuna fishing to the end of the summer, rather than as a conservation measure taken to protect a species that is classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature*.

"Furthermore, GONHS cannot understand why the DEHCC is increasing its quota from 13 tonnes to 15.5 tonnes, to ensure that anglers can continue fishing this species later into the summer. Although its press release states that this is in line with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas’ own increase this year, the fact is that Gibraltar’s quota has increased by 55% in two years – significantly more than ICCAT’s over the same period – and that Gibraltar’s quota is already proportionally much higher than that of any other Mediterranean or eastern Atlantic jurisdiction.

"Once a quota has been reached, tuna fishing within BGTW should cease.

"If the quota of 13 tonnes is reached quickly because there are too many anglers catching tuna, then GONHS believes that the number of anglers not performing ‘tag-and-release’ should be reduced in order to arrive at a more sustainable quota-to-angler balance. Increasing the quota – which is a conservation measure - in response to the wishes of a large number of anglers cannot be justified.

"As there is no recognised commercial tuna fishing in Gibraltar, increasing the quota for what should be a recreational sport is hard to explain. GONHS has previously alerted the DEHCC to instances of locally caught tuna being advertised in Gibraltar’s restaurants, indicating strongly that commercial fishing is taking place. Given the number of portions that 15.5 tonnes yield, it would also be reasonable to investigate the possibility of exportation.

"GONHS asks that the DEHCC reconsider its approach to the conservation of Atlantic bluefin tuna, because consumer demand is precisely why this species is now endangered and may become inaccessible to future generations."

*IUCN Red List entry for Thunnus thynnus http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/21860/0

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