"Canada is pleased to participate in the 17th special meeting of ICCAT in beautiful Paris. We would like to thank our French hosts for their excellent hospitality. We look forward to positive outcomes from this week.
"Last year, Canada highlighted the necessity for ICCAT parties to take action, particularly with regard to the management of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, to ensure that this organization is deserving of the stewardship with which it is entrusted regarding tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic.
"While Canada believes that the correct decision was made during the 15th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), this cannot be seen as a reprieve for ICCAT. On the contrary, ICCAT parties must strengthen the sustainable management of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna and follow through on commitments made in Recife last year. With updated assessments on both stocks of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna having been completed by the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS), we are well placed to ensure the right measures are adopted, fully in line with the science advice.
"Canada was pleased to see the positive trends identified in the stock assessment for Western Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (WBFT). The improvements in the biomass seen for this stock support what is being seen in Canadian waters; an abundance of fish. We see this as a reflection of a decade of setting the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) based on the scientific advice, and of the strong compliance within this fishery. But we also recognize the need to be precautionary as we move forward.
"Canada also feels that the stock assessment for EBFT shows that the revisions to the rebuilding plan adopted last year are clearly on the right track. Now we all need to ensure that we maintain our commitment to the long-term sustainability of this stock.
"But this meeting will not only focus on Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. While North Atlantic Swordfish has been hailed as a success story within ICCAT, with the rebuilding of this stock having been confirmed last year, we are in the unfortunate position of having a fishery which is now over-subscribed. While catches remain well below the TAC, the possibility of overfishing this stock exists and needs to be addressed. Allocations must recognize strong compliance, ecosystem management and scientific participation, as well as historic and continued interest in the fishery.
"The CITES COP also highlighted the lack of ICCAT management measures for shark species. For too long, ICCAT has shirked the responsibility to conserve shark species and it is for this reason that Canada supported all the proposals to list pelagic shark species under CITES. While none of these proposals were successful, similar to the situation for Bluefin Tuna, we must see this as a call to action. Scientific advice exists upon which we can base our management decisions for shark species. All it requires is a collective will to do so.
"2009 was not only a landmark year for the management of EBFT, but also showed that ICCAT parties were serious about taking action against non-compliance. The majority of ICCAT parties received either Letters of Identification or Letters of Concern relating to issues of non-compliance with ICCAT measures. While this clear recognition of non-compliance is an important first step, we must now ensure that we follow through and take stronger action, if necessary, where continued non-compliance is identified. Canada has been disappointed to see so few responses to the letters issued to ICCAT parties in relation to identified non-compliance.
"Canada believes the credibility of this organization can be maintained. We hope others will echo this commitment. ICCAT can sustainably manage fish stocks and ensure long-term opportunities for our fishers. It is up to us all to make this happen."
Source: Fisheries and Oceans Canada