Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Far more bluefin sold than reported caught: report

This "bluefin gap" occurred despite enhanced reporting and enforcement measures introduced in 2008 by the 48-member International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which sets annual quotas by country, it said.

Trade figures showed that real catches of bluefin in 2009 and 2010 totaled more than 70,500 tonnes, twice ICCAT's tally for those two years, according to the report compiled by Washington-based Pew Environment Group.

"The current paper-based catch documentation system is plagued with fraud, misinformation and delays in reporting," said Roberto Mielgo, a former industry insider and author of the report. "Much more needs to be done."

Before 2010, ICCAT systematically set fishing quotas substantially higher than the recommendations of its own scientific committee, which had warned repeatedly that stocks were in danger of crashing.

In 2010, the target quota -- 12,900 tonnes for fish caught in the Mediterranean and Northeastern Atlantic -- fell for the first time within the panel's recommended range.

But the new report implies the industry has circumvented the catch limits and tougher compliance measures.

"This (catch) gap exists mainly because of loopholes in the ranching industry," Mielgo told AFP.

He referred to the practice of netting young wild tuna in the Mediterranean and then corralling them for fattening, a system he helped to pioneer.

"Essentially, more bluefin tuna are harvested from the ranches than initially reported when they are first transferred there." more