Malta certified ‘fully compliant’ with ICCAT Bluefin tuna recommendations

Two-month technical verification mission held in Malta

A two-month technical verification mission has certified Malta to be fully compliant with the implementation of ICCAT Recommendations in the context of the Bluefin tuna fishing and farming industry.

“This important certificate was received following a two-month technical verification mission, held in Malta by officials from the European Commission Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries,” the government said.

According to the government, the report says that the government allocated the proper human and technical resources to ensure compliance with ICCAT and EU Regulations.

“The European Commission also notes in its report that Malta has also set up a special inspection team with non-stop stand-by operation during the Bluefin tuna season equipped with highly advanced control equipment and three licenses to use specific software to analyse the stereoscopic footages of all bluefin tuna transfers,” the government said in a statement.

“The European Commission confirmed that local authorities inspect all caging operations and monitor each caging operation by stereoscopic camera under water to verify the number and weight of fish being caged in Maltese facilities. When excess quantities are identified releases are undertaken, monitored by the stereoscopic camera and in the presence of an ICCAT regional observer. “

Parliamentary secretary Roderick Galdes welcomed this news with satisfaction.

“This is the first time that Malta has achieved such compliance, as a result of serious endeavours. This certification from the European Commission is beneficial and confirms Malta as a serious operator in this sector which yields an annual export cost of around €100 million, also generating employment for Maltese citizens,” Galdes said.

The government said Malta had become “a showcase” of the successful implementation of ICCAT measures and that it is being regarded with high esteem in international fora.

“This is the result of tremendous hard work and of an administration that is basing its positions on the most precautionary interpretation of the best available scientific advice,” it said.

A final decision on quota will now be taken at the ICCAT annual meeting which will be held in Genoa between 10 and 17 November 2014.

Malta has asked the EU to allow it to fish more Bluefin tuna, thanks to the sector’s recovery. The Maltese government argued that “an immediate, fair and substantial increase in the Bluefin tuna quota” would send a strong signal “that conservation measures do pay”.