WWF is concerned about the fate of Mediterranean swordfish | WWF

WWF is concerned about the fate of Mediterranean swordfish

Posted on
07 October 2016

As the ICCAT meeting of the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) brought to a close its preparatory session that will support decisions influencing the fate of key species such as swordfish, bluefin tuna and sharks in the Mediterranean, WWF expresses strong concern on the state of swordfish stock.
"We are very concerned about the future of Mediterranean swordfish. There is no time to waste – we need to take immediate action to reverse the decline of the stock. About 85% of the swordfish fishing fleet in the Mediterranean are EU vessels and the EU is therefore responsible for taking the lead in ensuring a secure future for this iconic species of the Mediterranean”   said Giuseppe di Carlo, Director of the WWF Mediterranean Marine Initiative.
Mediterranean swordfish has been overfished for the last 30 years. The stock’s biomass is 88% lower than the levels considered to be sustainable. We are currently fishing twice more swordfish than we should be, according to the advice of the scientific community. Fish are increasingly caught before they have had time to reproduce. These undersized fish now represent up to 70% of current catches.
Swordfish stocks are in urgent need of measures that allow their recovery. WWF strongly recommends the following key measures:
- A total Allowable Catch limit (quotas) to reduce fishing mortality
- A limit on the use of pelagic longlines from October to February to protect juveniles
- The establishment of a Minimum Conservation Reference Size based on the sexual maturity of swordfish in the Mediterranean, according to the best scientific advice available
- Enhanced monitoring, control and surveillance to prevent illegal catches.
Other species were discussed during the meeting.
WWF urges ICCAT Contracting Parties to make progress in the definition of Harvest Control Rules and the conservation and sustainable management of sharks, in particular blue and shortfin mako sharks. Progress is also needed in the management of tropical tuna, in particular for overfished bigeye tuna. Regarding bluefin tuna, WWF encourages ICCAT Contracting Parties to maintain the Total Allowable Catch to the levels set by the recovery plan for 2017 (23.155 t).