Compliance plan for EU for the conservation of Atlantic tunas

provided by The Recreational Fishing Alliance

he Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) announced last month that officials from the highest levels of the US Department of Commerce would work with the organization on negotiations with the European Union to secure a plan for compliance with the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

    “We are very pleased that the Bush Administration is willing to challenge the EU to live up to its obligations under ICCAT,” said James A. Donofrio, RFA executive director. “We applaud the Bush Administration for standing up for our fishermen, our fishing industry, and our marine environment.”

    On September 11, 2002, the RFA filed a petition for relief under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 asking the President to take action against the European Union for its noncompliance with ICCAT. The RFA complained that the EU's noncompliance with ICCAT quotas and management measures has caused bluefin tuna, blue marlin and white marlin stocks to seriously decline, resulting in injury to US commerce.

    Based upon its discussions with officials from the Department of Commerce, the RFA has withdrawn its Section 301 petition. The RFA is pleased the Department of Commerce will work with the organization to ensure that the European Union will be held to its international obligations.

    “We are looking forward to working with the Department of Commerce on its negotiations with the EU, and view this outcome as a solid win for the US fishing industry,” said Bart S. Fisher, RFA Counsel.

    RFA's 301 petition received tremendous support from Congress, recreational fishing organizations, commercial fishing organizations, and environmentalists.

    “The 301 petition is clearly one very effective route toward getting the EU to begin to comply with ICCAT,” said Rich Ruais, executive director of the East Coast Tuna Association. “Highly migratory species are truly shared resources and we cannot conserve and rebuild these stocks only on the backs of US recreational and commercial fishermen.”

    Ruais, who is a member of the Advisory Committee to the US ICCAT delegation, added, “We have made a great start this year with the Section 301 petition and this effort by RFA is an important and legitimate first step.”

    “The 301 petition put our government on notice of the economic importance of recreational fishing in the US,” said Steve Sloan, trustee of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). “The IGFA supports the RFA's withdrawal of the 301 petition at this time as a means to bring the EU into compliance with their agreements.”

    “In filing the 301 petition, our goal was to bring this issue to the highest levels of our government,” said Herb Moore, Jr., RFA director of government affairs. “We applaud the Bush Administration for recognizing this problem and committing to working with us to find a solution.”