ICCAT: Bluefin Tuna are Safe For Now

Written by on November 20, 2012 in Policy & Ocean Law

Emily Tripp

Bluefin tuna.

Bluefin tuna. Photo credit: NOAA.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) annual meeting, held last week in Agadir, Morocco, came to a close yesterday, November 19.

ICCAT is an intergovernmental fishery organization dedicated to protecting tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean.  ICCAT’s responsibilities extend to any other fish species caught in tuna fisheries.

This year, the Commission proved to be strong, as it resisted demands for an increase in catch limits for Atlantic bluefin tuna.  They voted on Monday to keep the current strict limits.  The quota will only rise from 12,900 metric tons a year to 13,500–still in line with scientific recommendations.

“It is always difficult for this commission to make decision.  It has 48 members and the views are very varied,” said Masanori Miyahara, the head of the Japanese delegation and chairman of ICCAT.  “After a long wait, the bluefin tuna is showing signs of recovery–we have to move step by step and follow scientific advice.”

Unfortunately, no additional protection was granted to endangered shark populations.

“They are willing to be cautious and follow scientific advice on bluefin, but when it comes to sharks, they ignore recommendations,” Oceana shark expert Allison Perry told The Associated Press.

Oceana described the decision as “baffling” and Miyahara was also disappointed in the lack of protection for porbeagle sharks.


Porbeagle. Photo credit: NOAA.

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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  1. C. Kilduff says:


    This title is misleading because bluefin tuna are still at perilously low population levels and regulatory mechanisms inadequate. While it is wonderful that there has been any recovery, no matter how big, bluefin tuna are not yet out of the woods. According to the Gloucester Times, NOAA asked for a reduced quota this year and did not receive it. Canada asked for an increased quota and did not receive it. Political forces are still at work and science-based management not guaranteed. Keep your fingers crossed for bluefin tuna (and please don’t eat it).

    See article at http://www.gloucestertimes.com/local/x520552032/Status-quo-holds-for-tuna-catch

  2. Emily says:

    Thanks for your comment and for the article. I suppose tuna really aren’t “safe” but thankfully, the decisions made at the ICCAT meeting didn’t contribute to making the problem even worse.