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ICCAT: Managing or Documenting?

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The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is one of the oldest regional fisheries management organizations in the business of providing stewardship to the management of high-seas fish stocks. The Commission came into force in 1969 with eight parties and today consists of 45 contracting parties. Notwithstanding nearly 40 years of experience, this organization is also confronted with the problems of over-exploitation; over-capacity; illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing; lack of adequate scientific information; and the continued decline in important high-seas fish stocks.

Despite the moribund state of fish stocks in the ICCAT convention area, the organization has made significant progress with respect to the collection and analysis of fisheries information, recommendations to its parties and the dissemination of this information, all key parts of its broader objective. Nonetheless, the organization has failed to make substantial progress with regard to translating a good analysis and documenting process to the effective conservation of tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic. That is, the organization has failed to “close the loop” in management. The question therefore becomes, is the ICCAT merely functioning as a “documenting” organization rather than a “management” organization? This study examines the current state of fisheries stocks in the convention area, the extent to which the Commission is meeting its own mandate, and the extent to which the management principles of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement are being followed by ICCAT.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2009

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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