EU tightens rule to protect tuna

Published: Monday 31 December 2007

Reprieve for small tuna European fisheries ministers have agreed on a 15-year plan to tighten rules protecting threatened tuna fish stocks in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

The plan obliges member nations to submit detailed fishing plans before the season starts next year. This will allow the commission to verify the distribution of national quota of fishing over the year and prevent overfishing towards the end of the season. The plan has also limited the total amount of time during which fishing boats can be at sea to six months a year. The minimum weight of fish that can be caught has been raised from 10 kg to 30 kg to help curb catches of juvenile or immature fish.

The plan will hit France, Italy and Spain--the biggest tuna fishing nations. The eu fisheries ministers have also struck a deal with Norway on fishing rights for 2008, agreeing to reduce amounts of most of the seven species that both sides catch in shared waters. However, ignoring warnings by international scientists, the ministers have agreed to raise their catch of the North Sea cod by 11 per cent, with the bulk going to the eu nations.

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