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Palma de Mallorca ,  November 20, 2019

European Union recommends changes in tuna fishing opportunities that could benefit the Azores

The Regional Director for Fisheries stated in Palma de Mallorca that the seasonality of tuna fishing in the Azores represents “a permanent challenge” for the Regional Government.
Luís Rodrigues stressed, accordingly, that the Azorean Government has been “raising the awareness of the European Union for the importance of ensuring the sustainability of this fishery, advocating a positive discrimination system for the Outermost Regions using pole-and-line fishing methods."
The Regional Director spoke at the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which runs until November 25. On the occasion, he stated that a statement of principles had been submitted by the European Union recommending changes in fishing opportunities due to the current overexploitation of bigeye tuna.
According to Luís Rodrigues, the latest ICCAT assessment concluded that the bigeye stock tuna is overexploited, and for that reason "there is a prospect of a cut on the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in the fishing opportunities for this species in the Atlantic, which "may have repercussions for regional fishing."
The European Union's declaration of principles presented at this ICCAT meeting recognises that tuna fishing in the Outermost Regions of the Azores, the Canary Islands and Madeira is carried out by small-scale coastal vessels using sustainable fishing methods.
“There is no doubt that the numerous memoranda sent by the Regional Government have contributed to the EU position," said Luís Rodrigues.
"We hope the European Union recognises the reality of regions such as the Azores in the negotiations with Member States and advocates positive discrimination, as has defended by the Regional Government, despite the eventual reduction in the bigeye tuna TAC," added the government official.
“There is evidence that, unlike other industrial and intensive Atlantic fisheries, pole-and-line fishing is a highly selective form of fishing," said Rodrigues.
However, the Regional Director noted that "tropical tuna catches have declined in the Azores Exclusive Economic Zone in recent years, which has resulted in catch volumes below the allocated quota."
Among the various tuna species caught in the Azores Sea, are tropical species such as bigeye and skipjack tuna find optimal feeding conditions in this area.
The location of the archipelago of the Azores and the migratory behaviour of these species, depending on the abundance of available food and ocean currents, lead to significant annual fluctuations in the catch volume.
The reduction in the abundance of tropical tuna in the Azores, more pronounced in bigeye and skipjack tuna stocks, is due to tuna purse seiners using fish aggregating devices, which may not only lead to overexploitation but also to changes in migratory patterns.
In this regard, the Regional Director for Fisheries stressed that "this year's tuna fishery may not just a coincidence as we are now catching bigeye in the Azores, after Spain has recently stopped fishing due to quota exhaustion."
"Therefore, we will be determined to defend the control of fish aggregating devices (FAD) used by large seiners," said Luís Rodrigues.


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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