Together for the sanctuary of the bluefin tuna in the Balearic Islands
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Bluefin tuna is migratory specie that lives in the Mediterranean Sea to fulfil one of its vital functions: the reproduction. Catch methods have been implemented. They are directed to the fishing exploitation of this specie. In fact, there is information which proves that since the Upper Palaeolithic (approximately 15,000 years ago) bluefin tuna was a part of the diet of the hominid populations in the Strait of Gibraltar, and also of the Neanderthals 30,000 years ago. Therefore, during thousands of years hundreds of generations of human beings and all the civilizations which have settled around the Mediterranean Sea have taken advantage of this nutritional natural resource in a more or less sustainable way.
However, in recent years the kind of exploitation has taken inertia and scorn towards the specie, this leads to the current situation: it is on the verge of ecological and commercial collapse. Nowadays, bluefin tuna fishery has probably one of the major illegal fishing indexes all over the world. Scientists have estimated that in 2007 captures were in the region of 60,000 tones, it is more than the double of the legal quota of the specie. The quota is less than 30,000 tones annually. According to scientists “the current management plan will probably provoke a major reduction of the reproductive biomass with a high collapse risk on fishery and its population”.
The situation of the fishing ground off the Balearic Islands is a good example of what is happening in the fishery: in the year 2006 only 2,000 tones were captured in the area while six years ago 14,000 were captured. This represents a decrease of 85% of catches.
According to the results obtained during the 5 campaigns done by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, the most important area in the world for tuna breeding, reproduction is in the Balearic waters
Last October important moves have been made to safe the bluefin tuna. The first one was when a motion proposed by Ecologistas en Acción, GOB, WWF/Adena, SEO/Birdlife and the Government of the Balearic Islands was approved. They applied for the close of the fishery for the bluefin tuna and the creation of Protection Areas in the Mediterranean Sea, including the Balearic Sanctuary, the central Mediterranean Sea, and the Levant Sea. This motion was signed by the main governments for the future of the bluefin tuna like Spain and Japan.
Two weeks ago a Bill was approved in the Congress. It was defended by Joan Herrera, the spokesman of the ICV in the Congress. It was based on the claim on the part of Greenpeace, WWF/Adena, Ecologistas en Acción and the Gob, they wanted to take drastic management measures on the fishery, such as the creation of a tuna sanctuary in the Balearic Islands. These measures must be approved by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). They are meeting from 17th until 24th November in Marrakech (Morocco).
The Government of the Balearic Islands, the Council of Ibiza, the Council of Formentera and the main environmental NGO are sat at the same table, in press conference in order to demand the Central Government the defence of the commitments acquired and not to lose this historic opportunity to make the first move in the rescue and recovery of this specie, the emblem of the Mediterranean Sea.
Raúl García, the responsible for the fisheries of WWF/Adena, has stated: “It is a great progress that the Balearic administrations and the Congress of Deputies have demanded in public this sanctuary, because its creation has turned into a sustainable conservation and management landmark at a world level”.
Jorge Sáez, the Responsible of the Fisheries in Ecologistas en Acción, has discussed: “The protection of the Balearic waters will benefit all tunas and swordfish fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea. Our country can not obstruct its preservation, saying that there are 4 Spanish vessels working in the area some weeks per year”.
Sebastián Losada, from the Ocean Campaign of Greenpeace, has stated: “We can not lose this chance. The Spanish Government must perform his duties and bring back in the next ICCAT summit the Balearic sanctuary”.
According to Neus Prats from the GEN-GOB: “We hope that the new commitments acquired by the Governments will be translated into an active work in the next meeting of the CICAA, which will be held this month of November in Marrakech, where these initiatives must be implemented”.
Margalida Torres, Consultant of the Hereditary, Agricultural and Fishing Policy of the Consell Insular d’Eivissa, has stated: “We hope that the Central Government pays attention to our claims and creates this tuna sanctuary in the Balearic Islands. It is very necessary for the conservation of our biodiversity”.
Bartolomé Ferrer, the Second Vice-president and Infrastructure Consultant of Agriculture, Fishing and Hunting of the Consell Insular of Formentera, has declared: “We have to avoid the extinction of the bluefin tuna. We have also to avoid the constant damages that suffer our craft fleet because of the indiscriminate industrial fishing of our sea”.
According to Patricia Arbona, the Fishing General Manager of the Balearic Government, has said: “The Balearic Government goes for this bluefin tuna Sanctuary. We have the duty to prevent this emblem of our Mediterranean land which founded a craft fishery economy. We have lost it due to the overfishing”.