Pew's Global Tuna campaign focuses on both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The Atlantic is home to, among other species, the mighty Atlantic bluefin tuna. But years of overfishing, illegal fishing, and fraud have driven these fish to historically low levels.
In the Pacific, where about 65 percent of the world's tuna are caught, lax management threatens populations of Pacific bluefin, bigeye, yellowfin, and skipjack tuna—as well as their ecosystem, and the fishermen who depend on them.
Tuna stocks are fished by dozens of countries, with a significant amount of tuna coming from the high seas, areas that start 200 miles from shore and cover approximately half of the Earth. Their management is largely overseen by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs)—international bodies made up largely of countries that seek to manage fisheries for certain species in specific geographic areas.
There are five tuna RFMOS: The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).
Collectively, these organizations manage tuna fisheries across 91 percent of the world's ocean surface—they are also responsible for managing the impact of these fisheries on tuna as well as other species. That's more than 325 million square kilometers. The Pew Environment Group engages at a number of RFMOs to improve tuna management in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Our work is grounded in the best available science and the belief that the existence of healthy tuna populations is not only possible, but imperative.
Pew's goals for tuna in the Pacific:
- Conserve bigeye, yellowfin, and skipjack tunas through strong conservation and management measures adopted and implemented by WCPFC and IATTC.
- Establish science-based total allowable catch (TAC) limits or equally effective fishing effort controls by WCPFC and IATTC.
- Institute and implement effective monitoring and enforcement of the conservation measures to ensure that illegal activity does not undermine sustainable management.
- Ensure that the use of Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) by industrial fishing fleets is managed in accordance with the best available science.
- Improve transparency and accountability of the WCPFC and IATTC.
Pew's goals for Atlantic bluefin tuna:
- Protect the western Atlantic population's spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Establish and effectively implement an electronic catch documentation system to better track fish through the global supply chain.
- Ensure that ICCAT effectively addresses the use of illegal driftnets to catch Mediterranean bluefin tuna.
- Implement effective monitoring and enforcement of agreed conservation measures to ensure that illegal activity does not undermine sustainable management.