Indignation by the action of the Spanish Secretary General of Fisheries

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ANABAC, the National Association of Tuna Freezer Vessels Shipowners in Spain, shows its profound indignation by the action of the Spanish Secretary General of Fisheries in the Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna fishery management.

On the 5th of October, the Spanish Administration decreed a precautionary closure of the fishery, starting on the 5th of November 2017, that shall prevent the Spanish fleet from catching yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean up to the end of the 2017 fishing season.

ANABAC expresses high indignation for the actions of the Spanish Secretary General of Fisheries, who has decreed the precautionary closure, unfair for the operators of ANABAC, having dissembled from this association the Spanish Indian ocean yellowfin tuna quota exhaustion by the “race to fish” modality. Besides being completely unsustainable, the lack of real management measures result in the irreparable economic damage of ANABAC.

In May 2016, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) adopted the Resolution 16/01, a plan for rebuilding for the Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna stock in the IOTC Area of Competence. Since then, more than one year passed and ANABAC operators have urged the Spanish administration to implement a sustainable management plan and an appropriate quota allocation, as required by the TAC and quota Regulation 127/2017 of the European Union (according to this Regulation the Spanish quota for 2017 amounts to 45,682 tonnes).

Very far from such scenario, the 2017 yellowfin fishing season in the Indian Ocean has been carried out without any management plan in place from the Spanish Administration. The Secretary General of Fisheries has acted in an irresponsible and unsustainable manner, not applying any measures to avoid uncontrolled fishing for its quota.

Due to the abandonment of duties of the Secretary General of Fisheries and in the light of the fact that 70% of the yellowfin quota had already been consumed by this “race to fish” criteria, in July, ANABAC operators were forced to sign a “gentlemen’s agreement” prepared by the Secretary General itself, to allocate the remain quota. This arbitrary allocation defied the principles established in the Spanish Maritime Fisheries Law, in clear loss to ANABAC’s fleet, which has more historicity in the fishery, clearly favouring other operators. Moreover, the Secretary General has been communicating weekly the catch data of each vessel with respect to the quota allocated by the gentlemen’s agreement, confirming the validity of the quotas assigned. Therefore, ANABAC has acted in the presumption and trust that the Spanish Administration would respect and enforce this agreement through the appropriate means of control.

The sudden precautionary closure of the yellowfin tuna fishery, which was decreed only one day after officially communicating consumption of 82% of the quota, evidences absolute irresponsibility on the Secretary General and represents a return to the unsustainable criterion of racing to fish.

The operators of ANABAC denounce this situation and call upon the Secretary General to respect and enforce the quotas allocated and to urgently lift the precautionary closure of the yellowfin tuna fishery to those operators who have acted in a sustainable way, thus to be allowed to act accordingly to their assigned shares.

Continuing with the closure for the entire fleet would mean deepening the discrimination towards ANABAC and the biased performance that the Spanish Secretary General of Fisheries
has been maintaining, which would cause irreparable damages that will be claimed accordingly through the relevant channels.

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