International negotiations to conserve Pacific bluefin tuna yields little progress; Monterey Bay Aquarium calls for strong long-term commitments to recover the species

Statement of Margaret Spring, Vice President of Conservation and Science and Chief Conservation Officer, Monterey Bay Aquarium, on the conclusion of 90th Meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission

Jul 07, 2016

Ocean Policy

Background: The 21 member-nations of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) are responsible for managing tuna fisheries in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. During their 90th meeting, in La Jolla, California, these nations could not reach agreement on how to recover highly depleted Pacific bluefin tuna. They did outline plans for new joint management meetings with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) starting later this summer.

Statement: “We appreciate the leadership and commitment of the United States and Mexico, which are working together on a long-term and science-based plan to recover Pacific bluefin tuna”, said Margaret Spring, Vice President of Conservation and Science at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  “However, I am extremely disappointed that all countries were not prepared to take immediate action at the IATTC despite clear scientific evidence showing that the population of Pacific bluefin tuna is at historically low levels, with overfishing still occurring.

“This is a significant missed opportunity to advance desperately needed long-term management reforms to recover an iconic species of economic and cultural significant across the Pacific Ocean. It is time for all countries around the Pacific to live up to their international commitments, as well as the mandates of the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, and adopt a precautionary, science-based and Pacific-wide plan to recover Pacific bluefin tuna without further delay.

“Although IATTC member nations did not agree on long-term reforms, we are pleased that they reached consensus on a series of joint meetings between the two international management bodies that govern tuna fisheries in Pacific Ocean, and committed to focus their joint efforts on addressing the long-term management needs of Pacific bluefin tuna. We ask that all nations work multilaterally and cooperatively in advance of the first joint meeting in late August in Fukuoka, Japan, to ensure that the joint meetings produce meaningful and scientifically-robust commitments that will put Pacific bluefin on the road to recovery.”

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The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the ocean.