Ecuador Announces Tuna Fishing Ban

July 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

ECUADOR’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries has decided to implement a ban on tuna fishing in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) in two periods, after accepting a recommendation from the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC).

In the first stage, 53 boats will be subject to the ban from 29 July to 28 September, 2011. The second phase of the ban will run from 18 November this year to 18 January, 2012, and will involve 34 tuna boats.

Marcos Cevallos Vargas, director of Sustainable Fisheries Development of the Undersecretary of Fisheries (Subpesca), said the measure covers 4-6 class vessels (more than 182 metric tonnes).

However, there is an exception for 4 class vessels, which will be allowed to perform only a 30-day fishing trip during the period of closure.

Also, these ships will have to carry an observer from Ecuador‘s Onboard Observers Programme or from IATTC.

Cevallos said other countries will also have to respect this fishing ban: Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Japan, US, Venezuela, Guatemala and European Union nations.

The ban will take place between September 29 and October 29, 2011 in the area between 96 and 110º W and between 4º N and 3° S, for certain tuna species like yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack, reported Subpesca.

According to the data provided by IATTC, between January 1 and May 29, 2011 the Ecuadorian vessels caught 81,267 tonnes of tuna.

In the same period the Mexican fleet fished 52,175 tonnes, the Panamanian one caught 27,192 tonnes, and the fleet from Venezuela captured 24,134 tonnes, among others.

Although the overall health of the Pacific’s tuna fishery seems to be vibrant, the prognosis for tuna globally is grim. According to a recent report by the IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature), five of the eight species of tuna are threatened with extinction. Most at risk are Atlantic bluefin and the Southern bluefin in tuna fisheries near Australia.

The decline is widely attributed to overfishing. Up to 90 percent of the large open-water fish have been removed from the ocean over the last 50 years by industrial fishing, and scientists warn those losses could lead to irreversible harm to ocean ecosystems if swift action is not taken.

Researchers and tuna fishers have spent two months in the eastern Pacific Ocean initiating the next phase of a globally managed scheme to promote effective yet less destructive fishing methods to reduce the environmental damage of tuna fishing.

Purse seines seek skipjack tuna but also catch sharks, turtles, or threatened tuna species accidentally. These vessels have a bycatch of 5 per cent on average consisting of non-tuna species and sharks.

The nutrient rich waters of the Humboldt Current running up the coast of South America to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands make the waters here one of the best environments in the world for big fish.  Manta Ecuador along the Coast of Ecuador is the tuna capital of the world.  The city’s main industries are fishing and tuna canning and processing. Processed tuna is exported to Europe and the U.S. International tuna corporations including Bumble Bee, Van Camps, British Columbia Packers, and Conservas Isabel, as well as leading national tuna processor Marbelize, have sizable factories in Manta.

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