ICCAT is the acronym for the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, an "inter-governmental fishery organization responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas."
ICCAT's work includes:
- Compiling statistics on tuna fisheries.
- Coordinating research and stock assessments on Atlantic tunas, and studying the impacts of fishing on tuna populations
- Developing management advice
- Producing publications related to Atlantic tunas
The Commission was established in 1966 during the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and was officially ratified in 1969.
Fish Species of Concern
- Tuna: Atlantic bluefin, skipjack, yellowfin, albacore, bigeye tuna and "small tunas" including black skipjack, frigate tuna, and Atlantic bonito.
- Other species: Swordfish, billfishes (e.g., white marlin, blue marlin, sailfish, spearfish), and mackerel.
Countries Involved in ICCAT
There are 48 current 'contracting parties' in the Commission. According to the ICCAT web site, "any government that is a member of the United Nations (UN), any specialized UN agency, or any inter-governmental economic integration organization constituted by States that have transferred to it competence over the matters governed by the ICCAT Convention" may join ICCAT.
Meetings of working groups, smaller sessions and stock assessment meetings are held throughout the year, but the Commission also holds lengthier meetings as a commission each year where fishing quotas are reviewed and set. From November 17-27, 2010 ICCAT is holding the 17th Special Meeting of the Commission in Paris, France.
With recent attention on tuna populations and overfishing, it will be interesting to follow this year's ICCAT meeting and see where the quotas for bluefin tuna, especially, will be set.