"We have some expectations about the results of this international meeting, particularly in what it may bring to Portugal [...], with a very relevant role that the discussion here will have on our outermost regions," Maria do Céu Antunes told Lusa News Agency on the sidelines of the inaugural session of the meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), in Loulé, Algarve.
The meeting, which runs until 21 November, is attended by the 52 'contracting parties' (countries and international organisations), with the aim of "reaching the best consensus in the adoption of regulatory measures, and thus achieving adequate results for sustainable management, at environmental, economic and social levels, of the resources regulated by this Regional Fishery Management Organisation, namely the large migratory species", according to a note from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food sent to the press.
"Aquaculture has a very significant appearance in our country, making perfect sense that we can bring these 52 participants here to reflect on these matters," said the Minister of Agriculture and Food, also recalling that "Portugal is represented by the European Commission," an institution that will negotiate on behalf of the 27 member countries of the European Union.
Maria do Céu Antunes hopes that the results of the meeting can contribute "to the objectives of the united nations and to the ambition of Portugal and the European Commission to have sustainable fishing, which encourages fishing communities and encourages processing and domestic and foreign national trade.”
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas will mainly deal with measures to regulate bigeye tuna, bluefin tuna and North Atlantic swordfish, species that, according to the minister in charge of the sector, "are very important, particularly for the outermost regions" of Madeira and the Azores.
According to the Portuguese fishery minister, the global quota (of all countries) for bigeye tuna "may increase", currently standing at 62,500 tonnes and being discussed an increase to 75,000 tonnes: "We will all be satisfied if we reach 70,000 tonnes", the minister said.
With regard to bluefin tuna, "a new management rule will be discussed taking into account greater stability, particularly in the long term," and there may also be an increase in the quota, currently at 36,000 tonnes, to 40,000 tonnes.
As for the North Atlantic swordfish, the species "is more stable" and according to scientific studies its quota should remain at the current 13,200 tonnes, whereas Portugal has about 1,162 tonnes, according to data provided by Maria do Céu Antunes.
In October, during the Agriculture and Fisheries Council of the European Union, which took place in Luxembourg, Portugal defended measures to increase the catch of bigeye tuna, bluefin tuna and North Atlantic swordfish.
The European Union sets annual catch limits for most commercial fish species, and these limits are also known as 'total allowable catches' (TACs) or fishing opportunities. Each TAC is allocated to Member States by means of national quotas, and each Member State is responsible for ensuring that its quotas are not exceeded.