International Conspiracy to Catch All Tunas

2 11 2008

tuna-660x433Otherwise known as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) based in Madrid, ICCAT is charged with “the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas”. However, according to a paper entitled Impending collapse of bluefin tuna in the northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean to forthcoming in Conservation Letters (read post about the journal here) by Brian MacKenzie of the Technical University of Denmark, they don’t seem to be doing their job very well.

In perhaps the best example of the plundering of the seas for overt profit instead of food provision per se, the north-east Atlantic and Mediterranean population of bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) has been overfished and will continue to decline to near extinction if the harvest isn’t stopped immediately and for several years to come.

Chronically obese probability.

The demand (and money) associated with tuna harvest appears to negate all scientific evidence that the population is in serious trouble – because of us. The Economist recently featured the paper’s results and therein quoted the opinion of independent ICCAT reviewers who described the situation as “an international disgrace” (read full article here).

I want to list MacKenzie et al.’s paper forthcoming in Conservation Letters as a ‘Potential‘ here at, but I doubt it will change the tuna’s situation that much, and it may only ruffle a few European (and Japanese) feathers (scales?). Who knows? Perhaps the paper will result in a massive down-scaling of the harvest and some serious commitment to REAL tuna conservation.

CJA Bradshaw

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6 responses

25 06 2015
Grim tale of global shark declines |

[…] We’re probably familiar with some of the losers of that massive harvest, with species like tunas, bill fishes and orange roughy making the news for catastrophic declines in abundance over the last […]


30 06 2013

Once they finish with this species they will just move onto the next already over exploited species and knock that one off as well. The problem is that people really don’t care if a species of fish goes extinct especially if they can make a large wad of dough sending it extinct.


19 03 2010
Wild Ocean Blue » Blog Archive » Bluefin No Vote

[…] Many claim that the tuna is being watched over by ICCAT – the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, so CITES isn’t needed. But perhaps a more appropriate acronym could be the International Conspiracy to Catch All Tunas. […]


19 01 2010
No chance Europe will recover fish stocks «

[…] continue to set their total allowable catches (TACs) too small. We’ve seen this before with Atlantic bluefin tuna and the International Conspiracy to Catch All Tunas. Seems like most populations of exploited fishes are in fact in the same boat (quite […]


25 12 2009

I sure hope it does lead to real conservation of Atlantic tuna, but I am not holding my breath! The last several years the conspiracies own science advisory panel have been pretty strong with their recommendations, and left little doubt about the future if the recommendation are not followed.

It seems to me the main body chooses to allow the science recommmendations to sit a few years hoping that like a fine wine they will mellow and become more subtle. This years quotas are in line with last years recommended maximum catch recommendations, which everyone at the table knows will be exceded by 100% anyways. So the real limit set by the commission was actually more in line with the science advisories recommendations from 3-4 years ago.


14 02 2009
Rare just tastes better «

[…] low densities ensure declining fitness. Many species may follow the same general rules, from bluefin tuna, Napoleon wrasse lips and shark fins, to reptile skins and Tibetan antelope woollen shawls. Gault […]


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