New bluefin stock assessments show stunning reversal in abundance

by Rich Ruais

As recently as 2009, the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) was warning that the eastern Atlantic stock of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean Sea faced “a high risk of fisheries and stock collapse.”

guest-ruais-SHThis implied terrible stock condition led the Prince of Monaco in 2010 to submit a proposal for an Appendix 1 listing of Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which, had it succeeded, would have ended international trade.

The CITES threat was one of the major motivations that pushed ICCAT to reduce and enforce its eastern bluefin quota down to 13,500 metric tons (mt) from catches that only a few years earlier were exceeding 60,000 mt.  It also led to a completely unnecessary cut in our western Atlantic quota in 2010.

What a huge difference a few years can make.  During the ICCAT science meetings held Sept. 22-Oct. 3, a dramatically improved picture of the west and east populations of bluefin emerged. …


Read the rest and much, much more in the November issue of Commercial Fisheries News.
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