Despite a strong U.S. proposal to conserve bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT ) failed this week to heed scientific advice and adopt measures that would end overfishing and put this species on the path to recovery.

However, the commission adopted a strong measure, championed by the U.S., to rebuild the western Atlantic bluefin tuna stock, the stock harvested by U.S. fishermen. The catch level for the western Atlantic stock was reduced from 2,100 metric tons to 1,800 metric tons by the year 2010. This stock is also fished by Canada, Mexico, and Japan.

The U.S. delegation to the meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, urged the international body of 45 nations and the European Commission to cut catch levels for the much larger eastern and Mediterranean bluefin tuna stock from about 29,000 metric tons to 15,000 metric tons to comply with what an international panel of scientists have recommended to end overfishing and allow the stock to recover.

The much larger eastern and Mediterranean stock mixes with the western stock. Conservation of the species depends on science based management and effective compliance with the rules on both sides of the ocean.

Although the final measure for eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna fails to fully achieve U.S. objectives, the plan that was adopted by the Commission will reduce mortality and improve monitoring and control of the fishery through new reporting requirements, measures that seek to reduce overcapacity and rationalize the fishery, and establishment of an ICCAT regional observer program. For more information, visit the ICCAT website (