US fishermen seek $100 million sanctions on EU
WASHINGTON - U.S. Atlantic Coast fishermen urged the Bush administration to pressure the European Union to stop overfishing bluefin tuna and white marlin by threatening to impose up to $100 million in sanctions.
\"These fish are the driving force behind a multibillion (U.S.) industry,\" Herb Moore, director of government affairs for the Recreational Fishing Alliance, told reporters. \"We can\'t manage the stocks of these species alone.\"
The fishing group - backed by the state of Maryland, boat manufacturers and the World Wildlife Fund - accused the European Union of routinely ignoring catch limits and quotas set by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas for the two species of fish.
In early September the organization representing more than 75,000 saltwater anglers, fishing clubs, marine manufacturers and retailers filed a petition asking the U.S. Trade Representative\'s office to launch a yearlong investigation to determine if retaliation is warranted for the EU\'s catch violations.
The deadline for U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick to announce his decision on the petition is Oct. 25, which is just a few days before the commission\'s annual meeting in Spain.
Because bluefin tuna and white marlin are highly migratory species, overfishing in European waters depletes stocks on the U.S. side as well, Recreational Fishing Alliance executive director James Donofrio said.
Commission scientists recommend that the annual limit for bluefin tuna be limited to 25,000 metric tons.
However, Spain and Portugal routinely exceed their allocations by 10,000 to 20,000 metric tons, Donofrio said. Many of those are juvenile fish, which have not yet reproduced, he said.
Tom Grasso, marine wildlife director for the World Wildlife Fund, said the EU\'s white marlin catch was 193 metric tons in the year 2000, or \"twice as much\" as the 85.5 metric tons they are allowed under a 1991 agreement.
Huge subsidies that flow from Germany and other EU members states to support the Spanish and Portuguese fishing industries are the principal cause of the problem, Grasso said.
Although the recreational fishing industry is the driving force behind the petition, the commercial fishing industry estimates it has lost $500 million in sales since 1982 because of overfishing by the European Union.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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