Created on Tuesday, 15 December 2020
Bigeye Tuna
Credit: Diveivanov – Adobestock.com

Earlier this month, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) ended its annual meeting without adopting a critical conservation measure for tropical tuna species beyond December 31, 2020.  FishWise and its tuna conservation peers find this outcome to be a shocking failure by the Commission in its most fundamental duty: to effectively manage tropical tuna fisheries in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The result of this inaction is that no international conservation management measures will be in place as of January 1, 2021 to protect tropical tuna species in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, including bigeye, skipjack, and yellowfin – meaning these stocks will be effectively “unregulated” in less than a month.

Unless the IATTC corrects its inaction immediately, the status of these stocks will be put at risk, as will the future status of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified tropical tuna fisheries in the Eastern Pacific.

Various NGOs and industry groups have expressed dismay regarding the IATTC’s inaction. Margaret Spring, Chief Conservation and Science Officer for the Monterey Bay Aquarium stated, “The collapse of international tuna negotiations at the IATTC is deeply distressing. In a year that the UN set a goal for ending global overfishing, it is shocking that Pacific fishing nations could not maintain even the basic conservation and management rules to conserve these critical tropical tuna species. Despite running one of the oldest international fisheries management bodies in the world, IATTC member nations have not learned the lesson of history: unmanaged fisheries are disastrous for ocean health and the people and economies that depend on these fisheries. In a matter of a few weeks, tropical tuna fisheries in the Eastern Pacific Ocean will not only be unmanaged, but also unregulated.”

Looking ahead, FishWise and other NGOs have called on the Commission to organize without delay a special session – tentatively scheduled for December 22nd – to put in place binding conservation measures that will apply immediately. During this emergency meeting, we urge the IATTC to rollover current conservation measures to prevent a lapse in management, as well as determine additional priorities for 2021.

For more information about the IATTC conservation and management, please contact info@FishWise.org.