EU states warned about overfishing

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The Commission has warned France, Italy and five other member states over illegal fishing in a move aimed at preventing the collapse of bluefin tuna stocks in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic.

The Commission has initiated infringement procedures against seven member states – Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain – for failing to provide information on the amount of bluefin tuna caught.

The mandatory transmission of catch data by member states is part of the Commission’s fight against the potential collapse of the eastern stock of bluefin tuna. Last week, it decided to ban the fishing of this species until the end of 2007, as this year’s quota has already been met (EURACTIV 20/09/07).

“The reductions in quotas over the coming years could be inadequate to prevent the collapse of this species, and are even more inadequate if catches are not properly reported”, said Xavier Pastor, executive director of environmental NGO ‘Oceana’.

These seven member states are most likely to be affected by the early closure of bluefin tuna fisheries. For France and Italy, the Commission’s warning also concerns shortcomings in the control of fisheries.

Commenting on the decision, Spanish Green MEP Raül Romeva said:  “Taking these seven member states to task is an important step in the right direction. With the bluefin tuna stock in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic having been fished close to commercial extinction (…) the EU must take every possible step to try and ensure the stock is allowed to recover”.

Member states have one month to respond to the Commission’s decision in order to avoid financial sanctions.

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