Special Report from ICCAT Meeting

Expiration of all Existing Protections for Atlantic Blue and White Marlin is Approaching

Five days into this year’s ICCAT meeting in Agadir, Morocco the looming expiration of all existing protections for Atlantic blue and white marlin is approaching and the hopes of developing a real recovery plan that meets the harvest limits set forth by the ICCAT scientific experts are rapidly diminishing. Despite firm support from the U.S. led by Recreational Commissioner Ellen Peel the issue has not yet been placed on the table for discussion. It is hard to understand how the representatives of the European Union and other nations can take the position that the lucrative sport fisheries for billfish present in 25 member nations simply do not exist. “This is just a U.S. issue isn’t it”, said one EU Commissioner – who admitted he knew nothing of fisheries in the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands and elsewhere in Portugal and southern France.

If no action is taken at this meeting, existing limits on longline bycatch and mortality of marlin – limits that have been in place for 12 years and have driven slight improvements in stock abundance – will disappear and any progress made over the last decade will be reversed. With less than four days left the signs are not good for the fish. Stay tuned and we’ll keep you posted ……