Fishing nations criticised over bluefin deal

Fishing nations have agreed a small cut in Atlantic bluefin tuna quotas, after meeting in Paris.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) set the 2011 quota at 12,900 tonnes, down from 13,500 tonnes.

Conservationists say the bluefin tuna is threatened by overfishing, and much deeper cuts are needed.

They have criticised ICCAT in the past for failing to ensure that the species and others are fished sustainably.

Correspondents say the 48 countries represented at the talks were divided over what action to take, with some calling for a lower quota or even a temporary suspension of bluefin fishing to allow stocks to recover.

But industry representatives and the governments that back them said the limits agreed at the meeting were sufficient.

“The actual catch level will be around 11,000, which is a large reduction from current levels,” the head of the Japanese delegation, Masanori Miyahara, said, adding that some members had promised not to use up their quotas.

The decision was criticised by Sue Lieberman, policy director of the US-based Pew Environment Group.

“Despite sound science to show how threatened these species are… Atlantic bluefin tuna once again were denied the protection they desperately need,” she said.

“ICCAT member governments had more than enough information to act decisively. They failed to do so.”