RECIFE, Brazil, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Conservation groups said lower quotas for Atlantic tuna fishing set in a meeting in Brazil would encourage illegal fishing and diminish long-term gains.
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas in Recife, Brazil, set the quota for the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean at 13,500 metric tons for 2010, down from this year's 19,950 metric tons, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported Monday.
In response, Sue Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, said Iccat's decision reflects "short-term commercial fishing interests, not the conservation ethic implied by its name."
"Only a zero catch limit could have maximised the chances that Atlantic bluefin tuna could recover to the point where the fishery could exist in the future," she said.
"This will definitely encourage under-reporting of catches and illegal fishing," said Xavier Pastoor, executive director of Oceana, a conservation group.
Iccat scientists estimate the bluefin population is 15 percent below where it was before industrial fishing began.
The European Commission, which backed lower limits rather than a fishing moratorium, said the lower limit was "a clear sign that the international community acknowledges the scale and magnitude of the problem."