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Tuna catch ‘sustainable’, GTFC says following call for ban

Sports fishermen fish an Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean sea, in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, August 16, 2019. Picture taken August 16, 2019. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

The Gibraltar Tuna Fishing Club has stressed that all local fishermen fish for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner, in the face of criticism from the Environmental Safety Group.

The GTFC was responding to what it described as an “erroneous” statement issued by the ESG.

In doing so the Club said bluefin tuna are no longer endangered in British Gibraltar Territorial waters.

It explained that the basis for the Group’s stance on tuna fishing is that “any fish deemed to be endangered by the IUCN should simply cease to be killed for sport”.

“However, this premise is fundamentally flawed given that Atlantic Bluefin Tuna are no longer endangered in Europe or within BGTW,” the club said.

“In fact, the IUCN itself which GONHS has called the ‘globally recognised authority’ on ABT, has delisted ABT from their European endangered list and has instead located them one stage away from being of ‘least concern’.”

“Moreover, the IUCN itself has noted that their Mediterranean stock assessment ‘needs updating’ and that using regional assessments such as the European Red List mentioned above ‘provides information at appropriate scale for international treaties and legislation’.”

According to the Club, it further warns that using their global red list to assess fishing in a certain region (such as Gibraltar), can “result in incorrect or even misleading assessments”.

“Even peer-reviewed scientific articles such as Faillettaz et al 2019 note unequivocally that the ‘bluefin stock’ has certainly ‘started to recover’. Numerous other sources including scientific journal entries, the IUCN and the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation have also confirmed that the number of ABT in our waters is certainly rising.”

The Club explained that the fundamental premise of the ESG’s press release is therefore “inaccurate and misinformed” and the GTFC implored the Group, to base its stance on the guidance of the IUCN and on the genuine science regarding ABT.

The GTFC also flagged how all of Gibraltar’s tuna fishermen solely use rod and reel to fish for this species.

Rod and reel is considered to be the most sustainable method of fishing as fishermen can only fish for one tuna at a time.

This, it said, is in stark contrast to the almadrabas’ (commercial netting) which occurs up the Coast from Gibraltar and which can remove the equivalent of over three times our annual ABT quota in one afternoon.

“If the ESG and other groups would like to tackle a certain form of fishing they should address those prejudicial forms and instead praise Gibraltarian fishermen on fishing ABT sustainably using rod and reel and with a limit of one fish per day per vessel.”