During yesterday’s session of the EU fisheries council in Luxembourg, concerning the issue of reducing the quota for bluefin tuna, the Greek Minister of Maritime Affairs, Islands & Fisheries, Mr. Yannis Diamantidis, maintained a negative and intransigent stance. This reflects the contemporary Greek “political culture” of servicing short-term interests, regardless of consequences.
Three weeks before the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna in Paris (17-27 November), EU countries failed to reach a joint decision on the issue of tuna fishing quotas. The member states of the Mediterranean were quick to speak out and denounce reducing the fishing quota of bluefin tuna, which is at high risk of collapsing.
In line with the data reported by the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Ms. Damanaki, if current rates of fishing continue over the following ten years only 6 to 8 of the 136 commercial fish stocks will remain in European seas.
Although there was an intention by several fisheries ministers (Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Holland) to support the European Commission’s proposals on the quota reduction of bluefin tuna fishing for the next year (from 13,500 tonnes at present), Mediterranean countries (Greece, Italy, Spain, Malta, Cyprus, Portugal) endorsed the proposal made by France to maintain the current quota.
The Greek Minister. Mr Yannis Diamantidis, in contrast to his recent statements on the promotion of sustainable fisheries, opposed to any quota reduction of tuna fishing in Greece. Furthermore he even requested an increase in bluefin tuna farming units in Greece, although it is widely recognized that tuna farming is detrimental to both marine ecosystems and fisheries. Feeding farmed bluefin tuna requires large amounts of fish. In other words, we remove fishstocks from already impacted seas, to feed and export farmed fish, while at the same time damaging ecosystems, and important fishstocks.
The Greek government and the newly established Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Islands & Fisheries continues unswervingly the path of his predecessors ignoring the long-term sustainability of fisheries and the documented scientific studies which highlight the gravity of the situation. Priority seems only to be given to political agendas that serve short-term capital gains and petty interests.
This approach leads to the collapse of fish stocks and erases any hope for sustainable fisheries, having significant and diverse impacts on marine ecosystems, fishstocks and coastal communities.