ICCAT issues report declaring Atlantic bigeye tuna overfished

Published on
October 5, 2018

A scientific committee of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas has declared with 99.5 percent certainty that Atlantic bigeye tuna is overfished and that overfishing is occurring.

Fishing mortality is 163 percent the rate of maximum sustainable yield and at current catch levels, the probability of recovering the stock is only one percent by 2033 – 15 years from now, according to a report of the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics. The probability of the stock experiencing a complete collapse is approximately 60 percent, the report said.

ICCAT’s scientists recommended a reduction in catch to allow the stock to recover, and called for steps to reduce take of small and juvenile bigeye tuna and properly account for the effect of fish aggregating devices on the population.

Grantly Galland, a global tuna conservation officer with The Pew Charitable Trusts, called on ICCAT to take action to reverse the downward trend the fishery is experiencing.

“Atlantic bigeye tuna is severely overfished, and unless ICCAT managers significantly reduce the catch, the stock has almost no chance of recovery,” Galland said. “The science is clear. If we don’t change course, in 15 years, the stock is likely to collapse. ICCAT managers should heed the lessons learned from Atlantic bluefin tuna crisis and take swift action to cut the catch to 50,000 tonnes per year.”

Galland said with the cut, the fishery will have a 70 percent likelihood of stock recovering by 2028.

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