PARIS, France -- Dr. Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, issued this statement today in response to decisions made at this year's meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.
"ICCAT member governments today adopted measures to protect oceanic whitetip and hammerhead sharks, but were unable to provide real protection for Atlantic bluefin tuna and several other species of sharks whose populations are in jeopardy. Denying critical protection for some of the most threatened and iconic fish in the ocean is inexcusable.
"Despite sound science to show how threatened these species are -- and all the recent evidence of fraud, laundering and illegal fishing -- Atlantic bluefin tuna once again were denied the protection they desperately need. ICCAT member governments had more than enough information to act decisively. They failed to do so.
"They failed to protect the spawning grounds for Atlantic bluefin, either in the Gulf of Mexico or the Mediterranean. They failed to suspend, or even significantly reduce, this fishery until effective management measures are in place and illegal fishing is brought under control. They agreed to only minor reductions in Atlantic bluefin catch limits in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, while adopting only cosmetic efforts to promote enforcement and compliance.
"Japan, the United States, the European Union and other member governments had an opportunity to secure meaningful protection for bluefin tuna this week. The inability of ICCAT member governments to make significant decisions to improve the health of Atlantic bluefin tuna and shark populations reflects the failure of a system that was set up largely by fishing countries on behalf of fishing interests.
"It is now clear that the entire management system of high seas fisheries is flawed and inadequate. The time for letting the fox guard the hen house is over; we call upon governments that care about healthy ocean ecosystems to overhaul this broken system."
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