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U.S. Petitioned to Act Against Illegal EU Fishing

WASHINGTON, DC, October 15, 2002

An international environmental organization and an American association of recreational fishers have joined in a petition to the U.S. government for trade sanctions against the European Union for "irresponsible and illegal fishing practices that injure Atlantic white marlin and bluefin tuna."

WWF, the conservation organization, and the Recreational Fishing Alliance are petitioning the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to certify the EU under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen's Protective Act of 1967 for irresponsible fishing practices.

Following certification under this amendment, the President may impose import restrictions on any product from the offending country.

The petitioners say European practices have undermined the effectiveness of the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), a treaty that establishes quotas and management measures to maintain the populations of tuna and similar species that migrate across the Atlantic Ocean.

"Despite ICCAT's recommendations that white marlin landings be reduced to 33 percent of 1999 landing levels, the EU increased its landings to 193 metric tons in 2000," said Scott Burns, director of marine conservation at WWF.
Burns points to "a pattern of noncompliance with ICCAT requirements." A 1999 report from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring arm of the WWF, found that 83 percent of the bluefin tuna landed from the Mediterranean, and 51 percent from the Atlantic, were undersized.
James Donofrio, RFA executive director, said, "U.S. recreational and commercial fishing organizations have considered ICCAT non-compliance a problem for years and, in partnership with WWF, we are tackling this issue head on."
Both groups report in their petitions that the EU is exceeding catch limits for Atlantic white marlin and Atlantic bluefin tuna, and has refused to take steps to protect juvenile fish.

Scientists release a giant Atlantic bluefin tuna they have tagged
with a satellite pop-up tag. It will pop free of the fish at a
preprogrammed time, float to the surface and beam its data
via satellite to scientists to reveal where the fish moved.

In addition, the RFA petition points out that the EU has
provided illegal subsidies to its fishing industry through its
Common Fisheries Policy that violate international trade

The RFA has asked the Office of the United States Trade
Representative to investigate European practices that are
injuring Atlantic populations of blue and white marlin,
bluefin tuna and swordfish.

Under Section 301 the President would be required to act if
it is determined that the European Union has acted unlawfully.

(Photo courtesy Stanford University)