Date of Award

1995

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Abstract

In the last two decades, the Atlantic bluefin tuna has been increasingly targeted by fishermen throughout the world, primarily for sale in Japan. Commercial fishermen, attempting to survive in a world of declining commercial catches, increased controls on fishing effort, and increasing competition, view the U.S. $50.00 or more per kilogram that might be obtained from bluefin as a financial bonanza. yet, the population of breeding adult bluefin in the western Atlantic (the focus of bluefin fishing, since the largest bluefin consistently occur there) has declined by an estimated 77% to 90% since the 1970's. In addition, the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks have declined by an estimated 50%. The International body which manages this resource is the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). ICCAT, formed in 1966, is charged to "investigate and study tuna resources and to adopt recommendations in order to maintain the populations of tuna and similar fish in the Atlantic ocean at levels permitting the maximum sustainable catch for food and other purposes." Although harvest restrictions were implemented for this species in 1982, there have been no strong signs of improvement in stock conditions over the twelve years since the restrictions were implemented. One way to improve the condition of the stock is to slow down international trade of the bluefin species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). A CITES listing, as a supplement to ICCAT's management plan, would monitor the worldwide trade in bluefin tuna, while allowing for fishery organizations to work towards a comprehensive global management regime for the future. Today, the Atlantic bluefin tuna has become a flagship fishery species illustrating the wide array of viewpoints regarding fishery practices and management. The debate over the benefits and failures of international management of this particular fishery has come to the forefront of global fisheries issues.