The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) concluded its annual meeting yesterday after adopting several new measures that will support the sustainable management of key species.
There were contentious negotiations for major stocks managed by ICCAT -- western and eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna; North and South Atlantic swordfish; and North and South Atlantic albacore. At the same time, the United States was disappointed that the Commission was unable to agree on several shark measures, including a U.S. proposal to require that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached.
Actions taken by ICCAT at this year's meeting include:
Extending for one year the current Total Allowable Catch (TAC) level for western Atlantic bluefin to support continued stock growth. Research plans will be developed t to improve the science behind the management of this important resource. The current TAC in the eastern Atlantic was also extended, and an update for both eastern and western stocks will take place in 2014.
Extending management measures for North and South Atlantic swordfish for three years, to ensure the continued sustainability of these stocks while protecting the U.S. share of these fisheries.
Maintaining current TACs were also adopted for North and South Atlantic albacore.
Again proposing, along with Belize and Brazil, a requirement that all sharks caught in ICCAT fisheries be landed with their fins naturally attached. While not adopted, support for this approach is growing. The European Union, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Senegal and the United Kingdom – Overseas Territories joined as co-sponsors of this proposal, and Gabon also expressed support from the floor.
Adopting a requirement for many vessels greater than 20 meters to obtain unique vessel identifiers (UVIs). This new tool will support ongoing efforts to fight IUU fishing and help to level the playing field for U.S. fishermen.
Conducting a thorough review of the records of the 47 members of ICCAT, and 5 non-members, to determine compliance with dozens of conservation measures and reporting requirements. On the basis of this review, some fishing rights will be suspended and ICCAT will send letters of concern or identification that indicate areas where progress must be demonstrated. A U.S. representative was again elected to chair ICCAT’s Compliance Committee for the next two years.