HTML _ 95-367 - Atlantic Bluefin Tuna: International Management of a Shared Resource
8-Mar-1995; Eugene Buck; 26 p.

Abstract: Prior to the 1960s, fishing for north Atlantic bluefin tuna was limited to subsistence fishing, international sport tournaments, and small-scale commercial ventures. During the 1960s, fishing efforts intensified as international markets developed for canned and fresh bluefin. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, large numbers of commercial purse seiners, targeting small schooling bluefin, supplied canneries while harpooners and longliners sought giant bluefin for export to Japan, where consumers treasured fresh fatty bluefin flesh as a delicacy. By the late 1960s, the western north Atlantic bluefin tuna population showed pronounced signs of stress from overfishing, suggesting international management was required to prevent the collapse of the fishery. In 1966, the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) was negotiated by concerned fishing countries to coordinate international research and management of highly migratory tunas and billfish in the north Atlantic. As a key instigator of the Convention, the United States joined ICCAT seeking to improve bluefin tuna management through better international cooperation. ICCAT chose to manage eastern and western Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks as separate populations. Despite the international management and conservation measures undertaken in the 1970s and 1980s, the smaller western Atlantic bluefin population continued to decline. By 1992, ICCAT estimated that the western Atlantic bluefin spawning population had declined to 10 percent of its 1975 level. Between 1990 and 1994, ICCAT and U.S. management regimes were increasingly criticized with science, economics, and politics all being blamed for unsuccessful bluefin management. In the early 1990s, conservation organizations focused their efforts on conserving north Atlantic bluefin by improving the international management regime. Meanwhile, U.S. commercial fishermen began reporting greater bluefin abundance in the western Atlantic, contrary to scientific assessments. The commercial industry's confidence in resource managers was shaken, and commercial organizations vowed to fight recommendations for still lower harvest quotas unless an independent review of ICCAT's scientific assessments was conducted. In 1994, the U.S. National Research Council conducted a technical review of western Atlantic bluefin biology and stock assessments and criticized ICCAT's finding that the population had continued to decline. After reassessing Atlantic bluefin stocks with revised data, ICCAT recommended a modest increase in the western Atlantic bluefin harvest quota and took steps to decrease catches in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin fisheries. [read report]

Topics: Marine

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