Development of a management regime for the eastern Pacific tuna fishery
The eastern Pacific tropical tuna fishery has developed in the last seven decades from its antecedents in a small pole-and-line fishery for albacore tuna in near-shore California waters to a large technologically-advanced multi-national tuna purse seine fishery in the eastern Pacific Ocean from Mexico to Peru and offshore to 2000 miles. Concerns raised by the rapid development of the tuna fishery resulted in the formation in 1949 of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) to study scientifically the tuna and associated bait fisheries in the area, and to make any needed management recommendations to the Commission's member governments. An ad hoc Inter-Governmental Meeting (IGM) was initiated in 1961 as an informal adjunct to the IATTC, to deal with international regulation of the tuna fishery.The fishery for yellowfin tunas was first regulated in 1966. This limitation of the catch, the increasing number of nations in the fishery, the growing capacity of these fleets to harvest the yellowfin quota, the economic and national needs of the Latin-American Pacific coastal states and the developing trend to control by the coastal states of fishery resources to 200 miles offshore led to increasingly difficult annual resolution of the allocation of the yellowfin quota among the participants in the fishery.More and more aware that neither the IATTC Convention developed in 1949 nor the IGM mechanism devised in 1961 could deal satisfactorily with the new problems of the 1970's, Mexico and Costa Rica in late 1977 convened a Conference of Plenipotentiaries to develop a new management regime for the eastern Pacific tuna fishery. During subsequent meetings and at a second Conference of Plenipotentiaries in early 1979, important understandings toward a new management regime were reached, but the fundamental problem of the allocation of the resource among the participants eluded resolution throughout the negotiations.If an international management regime is not agreed upon for the 1980 tuna fishing season, unregulated fishing with concomitant eventual damage to the yellowfin resource will very probably occur. Interim ad hoc management arrangements which might develop as a result of the breakdown of regulation would have negative economic, social and biological consequences. An understanding by the participants of these consequences may force the development of an interim 3 to 5 year tuna management agreement which, while not completely satisfactory to any, will provide a period of relative stability during which new arrangements can be evolved.
- Fisheries