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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 September 2007, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Europe bans bluefin tuna fishing
Bluefin tuna
Undeclared over-fishing is causing a decline in fish stocks, the EU says
The European Commission has banned the fishing of endangered bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean for the rest of the year.

The move was taken to curb over-fishing and dwindling stocks of fish, after the EU reached its 2007 quota.

An EU official said it would move to prevent under-reporting of catches and unequal sharing of the quota.

The ban affects Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Spain. Italy and France have closed their fisheries for 2007.

'Collapse risk'

Member states had already reached the 2007 quota of 16,779.5 tonnes, the EU said.

Clearly there are problems both of over-fishing a stock already threatened with collapse and of equity between the member states concerned
Joe Borg
EU Fisheries Commissioner

Countries that had not reached their allocation by the time of the ban could seek future compensation under EU legislation, he added.

EU and international rules also exist to punish member states that exceed their quotas.

"Clearly there are problems both of over-fishing a stock already threatened with collapse and of equity between the member states concerned," said EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg.

France was one of the main culprits, according to figures gathered by environmental group WWF.

"France was one of the countries that has caught most of the [EU] quota ... they have over caught their national limit," Carol Phua, WWF Fisheries policy officer, told the BBC News website.

The endangered bluefin tuna has been plundered for many years in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, with high rates of unreported over-fishing a key cause of the decline, the EU said.

Atlantic bluefin tuna is the best quality tuna in the world, and fisheries earn top dollar exporting the fish to the lucrative Japanese market.

The increasing appetite for sushi in Europe is also pushing up demand.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) sets annual fishing quotas to be followed by all member countries.

SEE ALSO
Nations agree cut in tuna quotas
31 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
EU fish quota deal hammered out
21 Dec 06 |  Europe
Tuna quotas cut as stocks decline
27 Nov 06 |  Science/Nature
UK calls for action to save tuna
24 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature

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