MEPs give the green light to deal that transposes into EU law certain provisions of international management plan for bluefin tuna caught in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea.

The text, adopted by 643 votes in favor, 11 against and 47 abstentions, demands Member states to give “special consideration” for small-scale and artisanal fisheries when distributing national quotas and to “endeavour to allocate a specific sectorial quota for small-scale coastal vessels”. National authorities shall also provide incentives to fishing vessels deploying selective fishing gear or using fishing techniques with reduced environmental impact. Other measures include:

Increasing fishing capacity by up to 20 % for purse seiners; New sectorial quotas for small-scale vessels, and for bait-boats in the Azores, Madeira and the Canaries; Increasing by-catches limits from 5 % to 20 % of the total catches; Extending fishing season for purse seiners by seven days (to cover the 26 May-1 July period); Extending fishing season in case of adverse climate conditions; Reinforcing monitoring and control system;

The proposal transposes into EU law the Recommendation 18-02 issued by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in November 2018, establishing a multiannual management plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. The transposition covers all control measures that concern the catch and farming of bluefin tuna in EU waters and/or by EU vessels in the Convention Area.               During the plenary debate ahead of the vote, on Monday evening, MEPs called on the Council to respect the outcome of trilogue negotiations and reach an agreement to approve the proposal.                                                                                                            The Parliament and the Presidency of the Council reached a deal about the Commission’s proposal on 10 November 2020. However, this agreement was subsequently rejected by Coreper due to Member States’ concerns over their exclusive competence to allocate fishing opportunities.

“I believe that Parliament’s request for more attention by Member States in allocating quotas to small-scale artisanal fisheries sector is reasonable. The Council’s turnaround is unacceptable. There is an agreement signed at the trilogue and we expect it to be respected. Not doing so would set a dangerous precedent”, rapporteur Giuseppe FERRANDINO (S&D, IT) stated during the debate

Like all tunas in the Atlantic, the eastern bluefin tuna stock is managed by the ICCAT, an intergovernmental fishery organisation established in 1966, of which the EU has been a contracting party since 1997.                                                                                             In 2006, the ICCAT adopted restrictive measures for bluefin tuna chatches for 2007-2022 with the aim to avoid a possible collapse of fishing stocks. In 2018, after verifying that stocks have recovered, the ICCAT moved from the recovery plan to a management plan (Recommendation 18-02), which entered into force in June 2019.