Fishermen in Atlantic Canada will be able to catch another 77 tonnes of Bluefin tuna next year after an international commission agreed to raise the annual quota following an improvement in stocks.
The increase was approved Tuesday during a meeting in Marrakech, Morocco of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). It was based on the recommendation of commission management.
The Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre (EAC) said ICCAT increased the western Atlantic Bluefin stock quota to 2,350 tonnes, up from 2,000 tonnes.
Canada is allotted 22 per cent of the western Bluefin stock.
Commission management have said the stock could withstand a 2,500-tonne quota.
Environmental group 'disappointed'
Still, the increase was denounced by the Ecology Action Centre, which predicts it will lead to a 7.5 per cent decrease in Bluefin tuna stocks by 2020.
"We are pretty disappointed and astonished by the decision to raise the quota this year," said EAC's marine campaign co-ordinator Katie Schleit. Two of her colleagues are in Morocco, monitoring the meeting.
"This comes after stock growth in recent years, so why the commission would jeopardize that is really disappointing."
About 700 Canadian fishermen take part in the Bluefin tuna fishery using rod and reel, hand lines, tended lines, trap nets and harpoons.
Canada decided against listing Atlantic Bluefin tuna as a species at risk last year, with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans noting that stocks have been rebuilding since 2011.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, ICCAT declined advice to end retention of short fin mako shark, the EAC said. Last year, Canadian fishermen landed 82 tonnes of short fin mako.