Thirteen of the world’s leading fisheries scientists have sent a letter to Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, calling on the EU to protect overfished yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean.
The letter refutes claims previously made by the Commission that the stock is in no danger of collapse, citing the most recent Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) stock projection report which points to a potential stock collapse by 2026 if fishing levels continue to rise.
The scientists also expressed their concerns over the IOTC’s ability to implement an effective recovery plan for the globally important stock, saying: “RFMOs have been called out again and again for their mismanagement of the sea. Trusting them to do the right thing now is far from justified and the IOTC, in particular, has done nothing to inspire confidence in its ability to reduce yellowfin catches”.
The letter concludes with the scientists urging the EU to implement the precautionary principle and bring forward, as a matter of urgency, measures that would effectively bring about the EU’s contribution to a 25 per cent cut in overall catches of Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna – the reduction needed for the stock to recover.
Charles Clover, Executive Director of BLUE, said: “We are thrilled to see so many highly respected scientists come together to tell the EU to lead by example and rein in the continued overfishing of this globally important stock. The EU cannot continue listening only to the commercial interests of its distant water fishing fleets and ignoring the signs that this stock is in crisis. Indeed, it remains to be seen how much of Spain’s 13,500 tonne yellowfin overcatch from 2018 will be repaid this year. We hope that this unified position from some of the world’s leading experts will convince world leaders that urgent action is now required to save this stock. The coronavirus must not become a handy excuse for officials to put off making decisions that affect the health of our planet.“