The Best Available Science on Western Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, or ICCAT, is preparing to overhaul and improve its Atlantic bluefin tuna stock assessment in 2015. For this process, it is critical that only the best available science be used to produce an accurate picture of the health of the bluefin population. The reputation of ICCAT, which manages the Atlantic bluefin fishery, as well as the future sustainability of Atlantic bluefin tuna, depends on fishery managers holding strong and continuing their commitment to precautionary, science-based decision-making.

Put simply, ICCAT cannot allow unsupported hypotheses to undermine the credibility of its scientific process and management decisions. Yet some stakeholders are questioning the established science and proposing that new, untested theories regarding western bluefin biology and behaviour be included in future stock assessments.

In recent years, ICCAT members have committed to making decisions based on the best-available science. Due to strong evidence showing that Atlantic bluefin tuna populations are severely depleted, ICCAT members have begun to set both eastern and western bluefin tuna fishing quotas at levels based on this scientific evidence. Using unproven theories in bluefin population assessments could provide unfounded justification for increasing the fishing quota for western Atlantic bluefin at great risk to the current and future health of the population.

Our fact sheet (download above) outlines some of the key scientific issues under discussion and debate, the unsupported hypotheses being proposed, and an explanation of what the best available science really indicates.