Advocating for Sustainability

Quite simply, what we need is a sensible management plan for the Atlantic bluefin tuna that doesn’t drive the species to extinction. By following sound science and reducing the capacity of industrial fleets, governments can avoid the demise of one of the most magnificent fish that swims the ocean.

After decades of decline and 13 years of intense lobby work and campaigning, WWF has been instrumental in getting ICCAT to reach measures including:
  • a decrease in quotas from 32,000 tonnes in 2006 to 12,900 tonnes in 2010
  • a minimum landing size matching the size at maturity for the species
  • an open season for purse seine fleets of just one month a year
  • an ICCAT Regional Observer Programme (ROP)
  • a Catch Documentation Scheme (the BCD)
  • a fleet capacity reduction plan and a Scheme of Joint International Inspection
WWF’s vision for the East Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery is that of a stock sustainably managed to the benefitof marine ecosystems, fisheries communities and consumers.


 

WWF asks of ICCAT 2014

Summary of WWF position on East Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna (TAC)
 
The SCRS recommends a precautionary approach implying either keeping the current total allowable catch (TAC;  13,500 t) or raising it moderately over several years until the most conservative estimate of the MSY level (estimated at around 23,000 t) is reached. A full assessment of the stock is scheduled for 2016, based on new methods and improved data, and is expected to provide a more reliable picture of the stock.
 
Based on the SCRS conclusions, and conditioned to an urgent and radical reform of the current ICCAT’s traceability scheme, WWF believes a highly precautionary, gradual increase in the bluefin tuna TAC of no more than 10% annually and over no less than 5 years could be adopted. Such an increase of fishing possibilities should be reviewed in  light of the results of the stock assessment scheduled in 2016, and should end up in a final TAC figure below the most conservative estimate of the MSY (e.g. around 20,000 t according to the latest results), to ensure enough room for precaution is left.

“In spite of the high uncertainties surrounding the assessment, one thing appears clear today:  the stock is no longer at risk of collapse, and this is a direct result of the current recovery plan. However, strong concerns remain, particularly regarding the traceability of the fish. We might be very close to what would be a resounding success in the history of fisheries, the dream of a sustainable bluefin tuna fishery in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Atlantic –let’s hope the lessons of the past have been fully learned and that –at least this time- history doesn’t repeat itself,” says Dr Sergi Tudela, Head of Fisheries with WWF Mediterranean.

 

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What is ICCAT?

ICCAT stands for the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna and currently has 42 member nations. Its primary responsibilities are to provide internationally coordinated research on the overall condition of highly migratory species in the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, and to recommend regulatory and management measures to maintain all highly migratory tunas and billfish at their most productive levels.

The Commission conducts annual meetings, usually in November or December, to analyze statistical data and recommend management measures. Scientific advice is provided by the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS).

Member nations agreed to implement ICCAT recommendations domestically within six months; however they often do not.
  •  / ©: WWF Mediterranean

WWF position paper for ICCAT 2014

  •  / ©: WWF/S. Rich