ICCAT: The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas is responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas. The organisation was established at a Conference of Plenipotentiaries, which prepared and adopted the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic, signed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1966. After a ratification process, the Convention entered formally into force in 1969.

Scientists with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) have said in a new report that a global ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna fishing is justified.

ICCAT scientists estimated that the Atlantic bluefin tuna’s spawning biomass is less than 15 percent of its original stock before industrial fishing. The decline is steep enough for the tuna to fall under Appendix 1 of Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). The scientists also stated that a total suspension of fishing is the only way for the species to no longer meet Appendix 1 of CITES in ten years time.

Environmental groups like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Greenpeace have applauded the conclusions reached by scientists.

“The ICCAT scientists have made formal what we have been saying all along – that Atlantic bluefin tuna is balancing precariously on the edge of collapse, and only drastic measures can now ensure this endangered species gets a fighting chance of recovery,” said Sebastian Losada, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace International. “The extent of the failure by ICCAT members to act responsibly and preserve our marine environment can no longer be ignored. Atlantic bluefin tuna has been subject to decades of massive overfishing and overexploitation and time is running out to save this species.”

ICCAT has in the past ignored its scientist’s recommendations by setting a far larger quota than researchers recommended, sometimes even doubling the scientifically-recommended quota. If ICCAT calls for a total ban on fishing, the decision then goes to CITES, which meets in March 2010.

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