Nations fail to reach accord on swordfish – International Commission on the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna
Nations Fail to Reach Accord on Swordfish
Carmen J. Blondin, Deputry Assistant Secretary of Commerce who led the U.S. delegation in late November 1989 to a meeting on the International Commission on the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT), a 22-nation organization that manaegs highly migrztory species such as tunas and swordfish, said that said he was “deeply disappointed” at the failure of atlantic fishing nations to reach agreement on limiting swordfish catches. The size of the North Atlantic swordfish stock, Blondin said, has declined steadily in recent years, and is now at about 30 percent of the 1978 level.
The meeting, in Madeira, Portugal, ended without agreement among Commission members on restricting swordfish catches. “All our statist ics point to real problems,” Blondin warned. “The average swordfish caught in the North Atlantic in 1988 was only half the size of those taken in 1978. And the size of the spawning stock–the life blood of the fishery–was down 40 percent during the same period.”
“In spite of these gloomy numbers,” Blonding said, “ICCAT members were unwilling to take the management steps needed to protect this important species.” Blondin was particularly critical of Spain, which he said, “rejected out of hand any possibility of at least limiting increases in current catch levels.”
“Efforts taken by the United States or any other nation will be useless if action isn’t ultimately taken by Spain,” Blondin said. The Spanish fleet, he added, has been harvesting almost half the total North Atlantic swordfish catch in recent years and has more than triple its catch in the North Atlantic since 1979. In addition to the United States and Spain, ICCAT members include members of the European Community and African, South American, and Asian countries.
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