Press Statement from International and National Conservation, Animal
Protection, Research and Recreational Fisheries Organizations
Demanding Action from Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission
Who will look out for the future of tuna?WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 10, 2009) --

The Inter-American Tropical Tuna
Commission (IATTC) is the intergovernmental management authority comprised of
16 member countries with the mandate to regulate fishing fleets to avoid overexploitation
of tuna in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. For the past six meetings
over more than two years the IATTC has not taken a single decision to manage tuna
populations. So tuna populations must be doing great, right? Wrong.
Exactly the opposite is true. As member countries bicker over the details of how to
avoid further depleting stocks, tuna is not recovering. And it is not just conservation
groups that say so, but rather the IATTC’s own scientists. With increasing urgency at
meeting after meeting these highly skilled fisheries experts have used some of the best
fisheries information in existence as the basis for recommending a suite of urgently
required specific, decisive actions to avoid over-fishing of tuna stocks.
Things are not looking good for the fish, especially the region’s bigeye tuna. These
highly prized fish may be on the same downward spiral that have taken bluefin tuna in
the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean to the brink of economic extinction.
And it’s not only the fish that are at risk. Tens of thousands of jobs in poor
communities that dot the coasts of Latin America depend on tuna processing for their
livelihoods. Fisheries operators and government representatives at the IATTC argue
that adopting the recommended management actions would have dire economic
consequences for these people, as well as tuna boat operators and their crews.
Conservation, research and non-governmental fisheries organizations argue that either
hard decisions are taken now or impacts on the fish and people dependent on marine
resources will only get worse.
So who will look after the future of tuna? If recent history is repeated at the IATTC
meetings this week in La Jolla, California, it will not be the IATTC. Fortunately,
market mechanisms may force the IATTC’s hand. A new consortium known as the
International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is bringing together tuna
processors, scientists and environmental non-governmental organizations to get
behind the IATTC and other fisheries management organizations so they base
management on scientific recommendations aimed to protect tuna stocks and reduce
their impacts on non-target species such as dolphins, turtles, sharks and seabirds.
If the IATTC does not act soon, it will fall to consumers to make their tuna purchases
from responsible processors and brands that offer fish from areas that are acting to
ensure that tuna populations stay healthy for the long term. This would be not only
good business and good news for the fish, but also for the consumers that enjoy tuna
that is responsibly captured. But for now, all eyes are on the IATTC.
Media contacts:
Gavin Gibbons, National Fisheries Institute, 703.752.8891,
Steve Ertel, World Wildlife Fund, 202.495.4562,
Scott Henderson, Conservation International, +593 98718157,
Ellen Peel, The Billfish Foundation,
Gladys Martinez, The Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA),
Jilly McNaughton, Fauna & Flora International, +44 (0) 1223 579473, jilly.mcnaughton@faunaflora.
Timothy McHugh, Ocean Conservancy, 202.351.0492,
Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community
participation to protect the Earth’s richest regions of plant and animal diversity and
demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature. Founded in 1987, CI works
in more than 40 countries on four continents to help people find economic alternatives without
harming their natural environments. For more information about CI, visit
WWF is the world’s leading conservation organization, working in 100 countries for nearly half
a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to
delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt
the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit to
learn more.
The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) is the leading seafood industry advocate representing all
aspects of the seafood community from water to table for over 60 years. For more information,
please visit:
The Billfish Foundation (TBF) is an international organization dedicated to the conservation of
marlin, sailfish, spearfish and swordfish, which comprise the apex predators of the ocean’s
pelagic ecosystems. With anglers and conservationist members in over 40 nations TBF has for
over 20 years used research, education and advocacy to support the development of sustainable
billfish management before national and international fisheries agencies and commissions. For
more information, please visit
The American Fishermen’s Research Foundation (AFRF) for over 35 years supporting research
and education concerning albacore tuna and related fish species. A unique organization funded
supported and supported by troll and baitboat fishermen and those who buy their catch in the
U.S. Canada, and New Zealand. and
The Natural Resources Defense Council’s purpose is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants
and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends. For more information, please visit
The Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) is a non-profit environmental
law organization that works in the Americas to strengthen people’s capacity to guarantee their
individual and collective right to a healthy environment through the development,
implementation, and effective enforcement of national and international laws. Among other
issues, AIDA works to advance the sustainable use of marine resources and the protection of key
ecosystems and endangered marine species. For more information, please visit: www.aidaamericas.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a non-profit conservation organization that works through
science, law, and creative media to secure a future for all species, great or small, hovering on the
brink of extinction. For more information, please visit
Fauna & Flora International protects threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, choosing
solutions that are sustainable, based on sound science and take account of human needs.
Operating in more than 40 countries worldwide – mainly in the developing world – FFI saves
species from extinction and habitats from destruction, while improving the livelihoods of local
people. Founded in 1903, FFI is the world’s longest established international conservation body
and a registered charity. For more information, please visit
BirdLife International is a global Partnership of conservation organizations that strives to
conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity. BirdLife Partners operate in over one
hundred countries and territories worldwide. For more information, please visit:
Malpelo Foundation promotes the protection and stewardship of marine and coastal areas in
Colombia by supporting the sustainable use of natural resources. To achieve this goal the
Malpelo Foundation promotes and supports the Colombian Government in the creation,
expansion and protection of Marine Protected Areas, strengthening research, monitoring,
education and enforcement of these areas. Malpelo Foundation promotes environmental
awareness with different stakeholders to achieve integral and sustainable conservation. For
more information, please visit:
Ocean Conservancy promotes healthy and diverse ocean ecosystems and opposes practices that
threaten ocean life and human life. Through research, education, and science-based advocacy,
Ocean Conservancy informs, inspires, and empowers people to speak and act on behalf of the
oceans. In all its work, Ocean Conservancy strives to be the world’s foremost advocate for the
oceans. For more information, please visit: