ICCAAT derided, tuna stocks denuded

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has generally shown itself to be ineffective in its mandate. Indeed, some have suggested with a fait bit of validity that the acronym more accurately expands to “International Conspiracy to Catch All Tuna.” A panel including experts from Canada, Japan, and Australia has now published a report with similar conclusions, saying that the organization is “”widely regarded as an international disgrace” and that there have been widespread failures in reducing illegal fishing, providing accurate catch data, and maintaining proper monitoring arrangements. When it appears that even Japan might be willing to back a moratorium on bluefin tuna fishing, you can be sure the situation is dire.

Unfortunately, the global record on fisheries management overall is dismal. Even the Alaskan pollock fishery – considered by many to be one of the most sustainable in the world – has seen a population drop of 50% since last year. The problem is simple to explain and very challenging to solve. There are too many people fishing with gear that is too good. Not enough parts of the sea are set off as safe havens for marine life. Pollution and climate change are also having an impact. Politicians are too spineless to stand up to the fishing lobby, not even in order to defend the public good, but to stop that very industry from destroying itself in our lifetimes. The industry needs to be much smaller and much more tightly regulated; the most destructive gear needs to be banned; monitoring needs to be improved; and states must prove themselves willing to enforce the law.

The chances of all that happening are fairly slim. All told, global fisheries provide one of the most acute examples of where human beings are weighing so heavily on the planet’s physical and biological systems that collapse is rapidly approaching.

Prior related posts:

The Shifting Baselines blog is also an excellent source of fishery-related news.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

8 thoughts on “ICCAAT derided, tuna stocks denuded”

  1. I love the photo! How’s his piano playing coming along? I hope that you will have an exciting conference in Toronto.

  2. Green.view
    Sleeping with the fishes

    Oct 20th 2008
    From Economist.com
    High time to save the Mediterranean bluefin

    WHEN Gemma Parkes, a communications officer for WWF, an environmental advocacy group, was attending an international meeting on fish conservation a few years ago, an unknown delegate left a bunch of white lilies and white chrysanthemums for her. They were not, she presumes, a kindness. They were a warning from an opponent of her prominent campaign against tuna fishing: in Italy these are funeral flowers.

  3. EU condemned on tuna ‘mockery’

    Iccat’s scientists had said next year’s total allowable catch (Tac) should not exceed 15,000 tonnes; but on the final day of its annual meeting, Iccat members set a figure of 22,000 tonnes.

    They also rejected the scientists’ call for a closure of the fishery in the spawning months of May and June…

    “The spawning closure was probably more important than the Tac issue because actually the Tac was never respected,” said Sergi Tudela, head of the fisheries programme at the environment group WWF.

    “It was the one thing that might have stopped overfishing”, he told BBC News from the Iccat meeting.

    “The decision is a mockery of science and a mockery of the world; Iccat has shown that it doesn’t deserve the mandate to manage this iconic fishery.”

    Earlier this year, an independent expert report branded Iccat’s management of the tuna fishery a “disgrace”, and put the blame on the shoulders of major fishing nations which, it said, routinely flouted the rules.

  4. Bluefin tuna ban proposal meets rejection
    By Richard Black
    Environment correspondent, BBC News website

    A proposal to ban the export of Atlantic bluefin tuna, which is a sushi mainstay in Japan, has been rejected by a UN wildlife meeting.

    Thursday’s decision occurred after Japan, Canada and many poor nations opposed the measure on the grounds it would devastate fishing economies.

    Monaco tabled the plan at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

    Stocks have fallen by about 85% since the industrial fishing era began.

    Monaco argued that the organisation responsible for managing the bluefin fishery – the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (Iccat) – had not implemented measures strict enough to ensure the species’ survival.

  5. Nations now free to fish bluefin tuna to extinction

    by Tom Laskawy
    18 Mar 2010 9:36 AM

    Well, bluefin tuna, it was nice knowing you.

    Ah, the ICCAT, or as marine biologist Carl Safina likes to call it, the International Conspiracy to Catch All Tunas. The ICCAT has repeatedly overruled its own scientists to set catch quotas far above sustainable levels. In fact, ICCAT’s scientists recently came out in support of the trade ban just rejected at the CITES meeting. The only thing the ICCAT seems able to manage is the Atlantic bluefin’s destruction.

  6. “The bluefin was supposed to have been managed by an intergovernmental body, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). But this was so stunningly bad at the job that it was dubbed the International Conspiracy to Catch All Tuna. In one recent year the scientific advice was to catch at most 15,000 tonnes of tuna. ICCAT imposed a limit of 30,000 tonnes. The actual catch was 60,000 tonnes. Little wonder the bluefin is vanishing fast.”

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