International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is an intergovernmental organisation responsible for the management and conservation of tuna
Tuna is a salt water fish from the family Scombridae, mostly in the genus Thunnus. Tuna are fast swimmers, and some species are capable of speeds of . Unlike most fish, which have white flesh, the muscle tissue of tuna ranges from pink to dark red. The red coloration derives from myoglobin, an...

s and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 and adjacent seas. The organization was established in 1969, at a conference in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

, Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, and operates in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

. However, the organisation has been strongly criticized by scientists for consistently supporting over-fishing, including an internal review, which branded ICCAT's policies on the eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery a “travesty of fisheries management”, and an “international disgrace”, and is often referred to as The International Conspiracy to Catch All Tuna.

Species under management

Tuna and tuna-like fishes are highly migratory
Fish migration
Many types of fish migrate on a regular basis, on time scales ranging from daily to annually or longer, and over distances ranging from a few metres to thousands of kilometres...

, and stocks
Fish stock
Fish stocks are subpopulations of a particular species of fish, for which intrinsic parameters are the only significant factors in determining population dynamics, while extrinsic factors are considered to be insignificant.-The stock concept:All species have geographic limits to their...

 cross numerous international boundaries
Territorial waters
Territorial waters, or a territorial sea, as defined by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is a belt of coastal waters extending at most from the baseline of a coastal state...

. ICCAT is involved in management of 30 species, including the Atlantic bluefin (Thunnus thynnus thynnus), yellowfin
Yellowfin tuna
The yellowfin tuna is a species of tuna found in pelagic waters of tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide.Yellowfin is often marketed as ahi, from its Hawaiian name ahi although the name ahi in Hawaiian also refers to the closely related bigeye tuna. The species name, albacares can lead to...

 (Thunnus albacares), albacore
The albacore, Thunnus alalunga, is a type of tuna in the family Scombridae. This species is also called albacore fish, albacore tuna, albicore, longfin, albies, pigfish, tombo ahi, binnaga, Pacific albacore, German bonito , longfin tuna, longfin tunny, or even just tuna...

 (Thunnus alalunga) and bigeye tuna
Bigeye tuna
The bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus, is an important food fish and prized recreational game fish. It is a true tuna of the genus Thunnus, belonging to the wider mackerel family Scombridae....

 (Thunnus obesus); from the billfishes, swordfish
Swordfish , also known as broadbill in some countries, are large, highly migratory, predatory fish characterized by a long, flat bill. They are a popular sport fish of the billfish category, though elusive. Swordfish are elongated, round-bodied, and lose all teeth and scales by adulthood...

 (Xiphias gladius), white marlin
White marlin
White Marlin are large, elongated fish with a large upper jaw that forms a spear which is round in cross-section. They are dark blue to chocolate-brown in color...

 (Tetrapturus albidus), blue marlin
Atlantic blue marlin
The Atlantic blue marlin is a species of marlin endemic to the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic blue marlin feeds on a wide variety of organisms near the surface. By using its bill, it can stun, injure, or kill while knifing through a school of prey and then return later at its leisure to eat...

 (Makaira nigricans), sailfish
'Sailfish' are two species of fish in the genus Istiophorus, living in warmer sections of all the oceans of the world. They are predominately blue to gray in color and have a characteristic erectile dorsal fin known as a sail, which often stretches the entire length of the back...

 (Istiophorus albicans); mackerels such as spotted Spanish mackerel
Spanish mackerel
Spanish mackerel may refer to:* Chloroscombrus chrysurus* Elagatis bipinnulata* Schedophilus maculatus* Scomber japonicus* Scomberomorus brasiliensis* Scomberomorus cavalla* Scomberomorus commerson* Scomberomorus guttatus...

 (Scomberomorus maculatus) and king mackerel
King mackerel
The king mackerel is a migratory species of mackerel of the western Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. It is an important species to both the commercial and recreational fishing industries.-Description:...

 (Scomberomorus cavalla); and, small tunas like skipjack tuna
Skipjack tuna
The skipjack tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis, is a medium-sized perciform fish in the tuna family, Scombridae. It is otherwise known as the aku, arctic bonito, mushmouth, oceanic bonito, striped tuna, or victor fish...

 (Katsuwonus pelamis).

Work carried out by the ICCAT

Scientists participating in ICCAT carry out studies on biometry, fisheries ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

, and oceanography
Oceanography , also called oceanology or marine science, is the branch of Earth science that studies the ocean...

, focusing on the effects of fishing on tuna stock abundance. They also collect and analyse fisheries statistics which are relative to conditions the management of resources. ICCAT is also involved in work on data for other fish species that are caught during tuna fishing ("bycatch
The term “bycatch” is usually used for fish caught unintentionally in a fishery while intending to catch other fish. It may however also indicate untargeted catch in other forms of animal harvesting or collecting...

" - principally shark
Sharks are a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body. The earliest known sharks date from more than 420 million years ago....

s) in the Atlantic and surrounding area, and which are not investigated by another international fishery organization.

Based on scientific and other information, each year the Commission decides on conservation and management measures aimed at maintaining target stocks at levels that permit the maximum sustainable catch for food and other purposes.


ICCAT is widely criticised by environmental bodies for having short-term policies that favour fisherman over the long-term conservation of the species. It is often jokingly referred to as "the International Conspiracy to Catch all Tuna".
In November 2008, ICCAT ignored the advice of their scientists that quotas should not exceed 15,000 tonnes per year, which had been determined as the maximum sustainable yield, and set quotas at 22,000 tonnes. An independent review of ICCAT, commissioned by the organisation themselves, concluded that their policies on the eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery are a “travesty of fisheries management”, and an “international disgrace”. Dr Sergi Tudela, head of WWF
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

 Mediterranean’s fisheries programme, said "Today’s outcome is a recipe for economic as well as biological bankruptcy with the European Union squarely to blame. ICCAT’s string of successive failures leaves us little option now but to seek effective remedies through trade measures and extending the boycott of retailers, restaurants, chefs and consumers"

In November 2009, ICCAT's scientific advisors announced that a total ban on international trade in Atlantic tuna was justified based on the decline in their population to less than 15% of the original size. However, later in the same month, ICCAT recommended catch quotas of 13,500 tonnes per year, prompting strong criticisms from environmental organisations, and calls for alternative methods to regulate Atlantic tuna fisheries, such as protection under CITES. Susan Lieberman, Director of International Policy for the Pew Environment Group said
Since its inception, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas has been driven by short-term commercial fishing interests, not the conservation ethic implied by its name....ICCAT’s actions and inactions highlight the need to take these issues to CITES—the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The ICCAT fisheries managers have shown scant interest in the long-term preservation of the key resources they are supposed to manage. It is now time to turn to other bodies to seek the needed protections that ICCAT has failed to provide

The US NOAA also released a statement with strongly worded criticism saying that though the new agreement "a marked improvement over the current rules, but it is insufficient to guarantee the long-term viability of either the fish or the fishery"

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.