Picture by: NOAA Fisheries Service Picture taken on: March 26th, 2008
Atlantic bluefin tuna are highly migratory and are fished by many nations. The U.S. bluefin tuna fishery is managed domestically by the NOAA Fisheries Service Highly Migratory Species Management Division and internationally by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). International management divides Atlantic bluefin into two stocks: western Atlantic and eastern Atlantic/Mediterranean. ICCAT has set and allocated western Atlantic bluefin tuna quotas by country since 1982 and eastern Atlantic bluefin quotas since 1994. In 1998, an international rebuilding program was adopted for countries fishing on the western Atlantic stock, including the United States, Canada, and Japan. Both stocks are assessed every 2 years. The latest stock assessment in 2008 confirmed that both the western and eastern Atlantic stocks are below sustainable levels (overfished) and harvest rates are too high (overfishing). Mixing across management unit boundaries of fish of western and eastern origin is an important consideration for management of the resource in both areas. In particular, the condition of the eastern Atlantic stock and fishery could adversely affect recovery in the western Atlantic. Therefore, it is important to continue efforts to manage the fisheries in both the eastern and western Atlantic according to ICCAT's objectives.