Tuna Coalition Demands Action by IATTC


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
October 30, 2008

An international coalition of conservation organizations is urging the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) to instill measures to save Eastern Pacific tuna stocks.

IATTC, the 16-nation body charged with the conservation and management of tuna and associated species in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, will meet in San Diego from Nov. 2 to 7 to consider conservation measures for vulnerable tuna populations.

The coalition includes Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund, Ocean Conservancy, Humane Society International, Bird Life International, The Billfish Foundation, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, MarViva of Costa Rica and Fundacion Malpelo of Columbia. In a statement released yesterday, they contend that tuna populations, including bigeye and yellowfin tuna, urgently need protection.

"We all bear the cost of mismanagement," says Meghan Jeans, Ocean Conservancy's Pacific fish conservation manager. "Fish are a public resource and as global citizens, we share in both the benefit and the burden of protecting them. There is no free lunch."

The coalition says too many fishermen are chasing too few fish, a scenario that has been repeated for decades as a prelude to collapsed fisheries. Additionally, tuna buyers, processors, retailers and consumers can positively influence the management process by rewarding those that provide sustainably caught seafood with their business.

"The IATTC historically conserved tuna and other marine life but that took dedication, diligence and collaboration on the part of its members, which has been missing in recent years," says Bill Fox, Ph.D., World Wildlife Fund VP of fisheries. "Perhaps, it will take new management ideas and methods, like transferable catch shares, or pressure from the global tuna industry to recapture the necessary conservation spirit."

"An immediate and substantive reduction in commercial fishing capacity and effort is required," adds Humane Society International's VP Kitty Block. "Not enacting meaningful and enforceable conservation measures will devastate this important fishery and ecosystem."

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