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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05ROME1174
2005-04-06 19:14:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Rome
Cable title:  

DRIFTNETS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN: WORLD

Tags:   EFIS  SENV  KSCA  ETRD  AG  FR  IT  MO  TU  ICCAT 
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						UNCLAS  ROME 001174 

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR OES/OMC - STETSON TINKHAM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIS SENV KSCA ETRD AG FR IT MO TU ICCAT
SUBJECT: DRIFTNETS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN: WORLD
WILDLIFE FUND MEDITERRANEAN OFFICE PROPOSAL FOR ACTION

REFS: (A) State 031564, (B) Signoretti-Tinkham e-mails

(U) SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED PROTECT ACCORDINGLY



1. (U) This is an action request: please see paragraphs 8
and 9.



2. (SBU) Embassy recently received a letter from the World
Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mediterranean Programme Office in Rome
that alleged illegal driftnet activity by Morocco, Algeria,
France, Italy and Turkey in the Mediterranean high seas.
Citing a 2003 WWF study of the problem in Morocco, and more
recent evidence from 2004 and 2005, WWF proposes a plan to
end these illegal and harmful practices. Excerpts from
WWF's letter are provided below. The letter in its
entirety has been faxed to OES/OMC for Stetson Tinkham.

BEGIN EXCERPTS OF WWF LETTER:



3. (SBU)...IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated)
driftnet-related activity currently exists in at least
Morocco, Algeria, France and Italy; and Turkey, Morocco,
Algeria and Turkey have openly reported to ICCAT (The
International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic
Tunas) the use of driftnets recently. A study carried out
by WWF and the local organization AZIR (acronym not spelled
out) in 2003, published in the prestigious scientific
journal "Biological Conservation," pointed out the extreme
environmental impact of the large-scale driftnet fleet
based in Northern Morocco that operates in the
Mediterranean High Seas targeting swordfish. A minimum 177
active driftnetters using nets of up to 14 kilometers in
length could be recorded, mainly based in the ports of
Tangiers (130 units), Al Hoceima (28 units) and Nador (19
units). This fleet annually kills more than ten percent of
the short-beaked common dolphin population in the Alboran
Sea (SW Mediterranean), the last Mediterranean refuge for
this cetacean, which is listed as endangered in the IUCN
(The World Conservation Union) Red List. Besides the 3,500
dolphins killed annually as by-catch in Mediterranean
waters, this illegal, unreported and unregulated fleet
inflicts a high mortality on vulnerable pelagic sharks
(25,000 individuals belonging to three species; a swordfish
to shark ratio of 2:1). By-catch by the Tangiers fleet in
the adjacent Atlantic waters and Strait of Gibraltar would
include a further 13,000 dolphins and 77,000 sharks.



4. (SBU) Even if the Moroccan delegation to the 2004
ICCAT meeting orally communicated their plans to implement
a four-year phase out plan for the affected driftnet fleet,
WWF has reasons to doubt its real implementation under the
current situation. Indeed, in a meeting in May 2004 in
Rabat, the Secretary General of the Ministry for Marine
Fisheries, Mr. Tijani Rhanmi, clearly stated to a WWF/AZIR
delegation that no phase-out plan for the fleet would ever
be implemented unless funding assistance is made available

by donor states. Recently, on 15th March 2005, the Spanish
Congress asked the Spanish Government to ask the European
Commission to include the phase-out of the Moroccan
driftnet fleet as a precondition for the signature of any
new fishing agreement with this country.



5. (SBU) Considering these antecedents, and given the
obvious need for a regional approach, WWF outlines below
... actions to solve this longstanding problem that
undermines the credibility of the international governance
of the seas:

MOROCCO:

-- Support the Moroccan government's search for financial
resources to enable ... a real phase-out plan for its whole
IUU driftnet fleet. This would encompass the coast ranging
from Larache, in the Atlantic, to Nador, in the Alboran
Sea, including the port of Tangiers, which concentrates the
bulk of this illegal fleet.

-- WWF is ready to contribute proactively with its
expertise, in the role of an environmental auditor of this
process.


ALGERIA:

-- Recommending to the Algerian government to carry out an
accurate survey of current driftnetting activities in the
country.

-- As a second step, a phase-out plan should be
encouraged, supported with necessary funding, similar to
the Moroccan case.

TURKEY:

-- Recommending to the Turkish government to carry out an
accurate survey of current driftnet activities in the
country. Some information is already available in academic
publications.

-- As a second step, a phase-out plan should be
encouraged, supported with necessary funding, similar to
the Moroccan and Algerian cases.

FRANCE:

-- Recommending to the French government the need to
develop and implement a phase-out plan for the IUU
"thonaille" or "correntine" driftnet fleet operating in the
NW Mediterranean, including the waters protected under the
Cetaceans Sanctuary.

ITALY:

-- Recommending to the Italian government to increase
control and surveillance activities to prevent the illegal
activity of driftnetters, particularly from Sardinian
ports.

END EXCERPTS FROM TEXT.

COMMENT:


--------------------------





6. (SBU) In a recent meeting with EST officers, WWF
representatives claimed that WWF observers in 2004 had seen
evidence of driftnet use on Italian fishing vessels using
Sardinian ports. However, they did not say whether they
obtained documentary evidence from these sightings, and the
Department will note that no such evidence is presented in
the WWF letter. WWF contacted the Embassy on an urgent
basis because the driftnet season begins in mid-April. END
COMMENT.




7. (SBU) On March 3, SCIcouns presented Ref A demarche to
Riccardo Rigillo, Director for External Resources and
Surveillance, Directorate General for Fishing and
Aquaculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. We
mentioned our ongoing concern over the continued use of
Italian illegal driftnets and noted that both WWF and
Greenpeace-Italy had approached the Embassy last summer.
Several articles, some during last July's meeting of the
International Whaling Commission in Sorrento, appeared in
the Italian press on the problem. Rigillo was aware of the
episodes during the summer of 2004, and told us "if similar
incidents happen this year, the GOI would take more
decisive actions." (NOTE: Rigillo was referring to
specific driftnet enforcement plans that have not been
activated since 2003. END NOTE.)

ACTION REQUESTED


--------------------------





8. (SBU) On the potential for driftnet use in Italy this
year, Embassy suggests that a letter from OES/O DAS David
Balton to Under Secretary Paolo Scarpa Bonazza Buora of the
Ministry of Agriculture and Forests would be useful to
underscore U.S. concerns. Scarpa Bonazza, the chief GOI
policymaker on fisheries issues, a close friend of the
United States, should be receptive.




9. (SBU) Department is also asked to review faxed letter
and advise how Embassy should respond to the WWF
Mediterranean Programme Office letter. Assistance
appreciated.
SEMBLER


NNNN
2005ROME01174 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED