§ Lord Hardy of Wath
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What action is being taken to prevent overfishing of swordfish and bluefin tuna in the Atlantic Ocean; and whether Spain has exceeded the limits on the taking of these species in any of the last seven years. [HL272]
§ Baroness Hayman
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), to which both the EC and UK (on behalf of certain overseas territories) belong, is the regional fisheries organisation responsible for managing and conserving tuna and tuna-like species, including swordfish, in the Atlantic Ocean. ICCAT has established management measures, including total allowable catches and quotas, for both swordfish and bluefin tuna. These are implemented by the EC.
For bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic, measures were first introduced in 1995 to limit catches to the highest level realised in either 1993 or 1994. In addition, catches were to be reduced by 25 per cent of that level by the end of 1998. For bluefin tuna in the western Atlantic, quota limits were introduced in 1982 and have applied ever since.
For swordfish in the northern Atlantic, catch restrictions were first introduced in 1995 by means of a quota regime. For swordfish in the southern Atlantic, measures were introduced in 1995 to limit catches, for countries catching more than 250 tonnes per year, to the highest level realised in either 1993 or 1994. In 1998, this was replaced by a TAC and quota regime. In addition, ICCAT introduced in 1997, for northern Atlantic swordfish and bluefin tuna, a system of penalties whereby a contracting party which overfishes its quota in one year will have the same amount deducted from its quota in the next. If a quota is overfished in two consecutive years, 125 per cent of the overfished amount will be deducted. The same provision was applied to southern Atlantic swordfish in 1998.
The table below details catches of the species by Spanish vessels in the years 1992 to 1998 and the quota limits established were applicable, based on information available to the Ministry.
Spanish quotas/catch limits and catches of bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean and swordfish in the north and south Atlantic Year Quota/catch limit Catch1 Bluefin tuna tonnes 1992 no quota limit 4,532 1993 no quota limit 7,096 1994 no quota limit 5,878 1995 7,096 8,426 1996 7,096 8,762 1997 7,096 8,047 1998 5,842 5,800 Swordfish (North Atlantic) 1992 no quota 6,672 1993 no quota 6,598 1994 no quota 6,185
Spanish quotas/catch limits and catches of bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean and swordfish in the north and south Atlantic Year Quota/catch limit Catch1 1995 6,230 6,953 1996 5,500 5,547 1997 4,661 5,140 1998 4,538 4,079 Swordfish (South Atlantic) 1992 No quota 5,651 1993 No quota 6,974 1994 No quota 7,937 1995 7,937 11,290 1996 7,937 9,622 1997 7,937 8,461 1998 5,848 5,831 1Catch figures taken from ICCAT Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) Report.
Spain has no quota to fish bluefin tuna in the western Atlantic.