ICCAT adopts higher quotas for western, eastern bluefin tuna

GENOA, ITALY – The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) concluded its annual meeting here on Nov. 17 and adopted, with overwhelming support, increases in both the western and eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna quotas.

At press time, neither the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) nor ICCAT had issued details about the meeting.  However, the American Bluefin Tuna Association (ABTA), whose executive director, Rich Ruais, was a member of the US delegation to ICCAT, reported that member nations agreed to increase the western quota from the current level of 1,750 metric tons (mt) to 2,000 mt, a 14% hike, for 2015 and 2016.

The US will receive about a 54% share of the increase with other western Atlantic fishing nations, most notably Canada and Japan, splitting the rest.  In its meeting report, the ABTA noted that the most recent scientific advice would have supported an increase of up to 2,250 mt, but that NMFS, which has long resisted quota increases, urged a more conservative approach.

In a Guest Column published in the November 2014 edition of CFN, Ruais said that the recent stock assessment conducted by ICCAT’s Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) put to rest the long debate over whether the western stock should be managed under the “low” or “high” recruitment scenarios.

“Under low recruitment, the abundant recruitments experienced in the early 1970s are no longer to be expected, while the high recruitment hypothesis suggests that we can rebuild the stock to uncertain historical levels again,” Ruais wrote.  “Updated and revised estimates of recruitment from this year’s assessment shift the weight of evidence strongly in favor of the low recruitment hypothesis.  The western Atlantic bluefin stock biomass is more than rebuilt.”…

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