Gibraltar Tuna Fishing Club Regrets the Lack of Consultation Surrounding the New Regulations

Dear Sir,

The Gibraltar Tuna Fishing Club (GTFC) regrets that the new measures announced by the Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change in relation to the upcoming tuna season, were decided on without consulting our club. As the only dedicated tuna fishing club in Gibraltar and one of the biggest fishing clubs, we feel that our feedback would have been vital in shaping this policy.

We, as an official club, have been asking for a meeting with the Minister for over two months now and it is regrettable that we were not afforded that meeting before the changes were published.

The Scientific Evidence

The scientific evidence surrounding Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (ABT) has substantially changed from last year to this year. Firstly, the IUCN has now confirmed that ABT are NO LONGER ENDANGERED in European waters. On their website the IUCN note that their previous Mediterranean study (which showed ABT as endangered) is now outdated and their most recent study conducted in 2015 shows that ABT are now classified in Europe as “near threatened”. This means that ABT are completely out of the IUCN’s ‘vulnerable’ category.

Although globally ABT remain endangered, the IUCN themselves warn that we should not use their global assessments given that they can produce “incorrect or misleading results”.

Their regional guidelines are therefore more accurate and appropriate to demonstrate ABT’s status in BGTW. Furthermore, even the IUCN note that ABT are no longer being overfished and that based on the current trend they will be classified as being of “least concern” in the near future.

It is therefore regrettable that the Club was not present at the last Fishing Working Group meeting, in order to present this evidence and discuss the new policy which the Minister has implemented.

Enforcement

The Club would also like to convey its disappointment in relation to enforcement in BGTW.

When it comes to tuna fishing it seems that the Government attempt to impose new restrictions for anglers every year, however, other methods of fishing including the infamous longlines/palangres are completely immune from scrutiny even though they kill numerous fish, many of which are undersized. Moreover, the increase in Spanish anglers fishing with impunity in our waters, both with nets and for tuna, is disappointing.

It seems as if Gibraltarians are always policed whereas others are given a free pass.

What the Club Would Like to See

The GSLP/Liberals committed in their manifesto that they would increase the tuna quota yearly in line with ICCAT and that all locally affected parties would be consulted before any tuna regulations were amended. It is unfortunate therefore that the Minister did not abide by this promise before he recently amended the regulations. We therefore hope as a Club that he will consult us in the future before any subsequent changes.

Additionally, based on their manifesto, we would like to see an immediate increase in the tuna quota in line with ICCAT.

The Club would also like to express that we are wholly opposed to any new restrictions imposed on fishing ABT in BGTW. The scientific evidence above demonstrates that ABT are no longer being overfished and that their status is improving. Whilst the whole world is slowly and proportionately lifting restrictions, Gibraltar is defying the evidence and instead creating new restrictions.

Additionally, we believe that the new measure is discriminatory. It targets those fishermen who are more committed to the sport and it means that if an angler catches a fish on Monday and Tuesday, they will be banned from fishing for the rest of the week.

The Club has also called for catch and release to be allowed in BGTW.

This is currently allowed in almost every tuna-fishing country around the world but is prohibited in Gibraltar.

Given the scientific evidence listed above, the club strongly urges the government to implement a year-round catch and release programme whereby anglers can catch tuna, record their measurements for scientific purposes and then release the tuna safely back into their environment.

In conclusion, it is upsetting that the Club was once again snubbed during this decision process, we call on the Minister to accept our application for a seat in the Fishing Working Group and to reconsider the new regulations with a view of introducing catch and release for all anglers.

Gibraltar Tuna Fishing Club

16-06-2020 PANORAMAdailyGIBRALTAR