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International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas

International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas

 

SUMMARY OF:

International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas

Protocol to amend the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas

Decision 86/238/EEC on the accession of the Community to the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, as amended by the Protocol signed in Paris in 1984

Decision (EU) 2019/2025 on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, and the provisional application of the Protocol to amend the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas

Regulation (EU) 2017/2107 laying down management, conservation and control measures applicable in the Convention area of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas

WHAT ARE THE AIMS OF THE CONVENTION, PROTOCOL, DECISIONS AND REGULATION?

  • The convention aims to ensure that the Atlantic tuna population is maintained at levels that will permit the maximum sustainable catch for food and other purposes, and introduces the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).
  • The protocol amends the convention, with an emphasis on the aim of long-term conservation.
  • The 1986 decision marks the European Community’s accession to the convention.
  • The 2019 decision marks the signing and provisional application of the protocol, on behalf of the European Union (EU).
  • The regulation lays down management, conservation and control rules relating to fishing for tuna species managed by ICCAT.

KEY POINTS

Note: this summary covers the convention as subsequently amended by the protocol.

Structure

The convention establishes ICCAT to carry out its objectives, applying a precautionary and ecosystem approach including:

  • using the best available scientific evidence;
  • protecting marine environment diversity;
  • fair and transparent decision making.

According to the convention, the ICCAT Commission should meet every 2 years and should be comprised of no more than three delegates from each ICCAT member, assisted by experts and advisors. In fact, the ICCAT Commission meets every year and is responsible for:

  • studying populations of tuna, tuna-like fish and elasmobranchs (as for instance sharks, skates, rays and sawfishes) that are oceanic, pelagic and highly migratory (ICCAT species), utilising where possible the technical and scientific services of official agencies of ICCAT Commission members;
  • collecting and analysing statistical information relating to the current conditions and trends of ICCAT species;
  • studying and appraising measures and methods to ensure populations of ICCAT species are maintained;
  • recommending studies and investigations to the Members of the Commission; and
  • publishing its findings.

The ICCAT Council meets once in the interim between ICCAT Commission meetings. It is comprised of the ICCAT Chair and Vice-Chair and between 4 and 10 member representatives.

The ICCAT Commission appoints an Executive Secretary and may establish panels by species or geographic area.

Recommendations

On the basis of scientific evidence, the ICCAT makes recommendations designed to:

  • ensure long-term conservation and sustainable use of ICCAT species by maintaining or restoring the abundance of the stocks at or above levels capable of producing maximum sustainable yield;
  • promote the conservation of other species dependent on or associated with ICCAT species, to maintain or restore populations above levels at which their reproduction may become seriously threatened.

Objections and disputes

ICCAT Commission members can present written objections to recommendations where:

  • it is inconsistent with the convention or international law;
  • it unjustifiably discriminates against the objecting member;
  • the member cannot practically comply; or
  • there are security constraints if the objecting member were to comply.

Parties to any dispute must consult each other to settle disputes by amicable means and as quickly as possible. If a dispute is not resolved, it can be submitted to final and binding arbitration by joint request. An annex lays out the procedures for resolving disputes.

Enforcement

Members of the ICCAT Commission agree to do everything necessary to ensure the convention is enforced and must submit a statement of the action taken to achieve this every 2 years, or as required. ICCAT Commission members must:

  • provide any available statistical, biological and other scientific information on request;
  • allow the ICCAT Commission to obtain voluntary information directly from companies and individuals;
  • collaborate with other members on suitable effective measures;
  • set up a system of international enforcement for their areas of jurisdiction.

Financial arrangements

Each ICCAT Commission member contributes to the budget an amount calculated in accordance with financial regulations adopted by the ICCAT Commission, based partly on the total round weight of catch and net weight of canned products, and the degree of economic development of members.

Collaboration

The convention demands a working relationship between the ICCAT Commission and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and other international fisheries commissions and scientific organisations which might contribute to their work, with the possibility of participating (but not voting) in ICCAT Commission meetings.

The 2017 Regulation

Regulation (EU) 2017/2107 sets out conservation and control rules for highly migratory fish managed by ICCAT (the species concerned are listed in an annex). The regulation includes detailed rules on specific measures for the following species within the ICCAT conventional area:

  • tropical tunas,
  • North Atlantic albacore,
  • swordfish,
  • blue marlin and white marlin,
  • sharks,
  • seabirds, and
  • sea turtles.

It also includes rules concerning:

  • authorisations,
  • control of catches,
  • transhipment,
  • scientific observer programmes,
  • control of non-EU fishing vessels in EU Member State ports, and
  • enforcement.

DATE OF ENTRY INTO FORCE

  • The convention entered into force on 21 March 1969.
  • The convention as amended by the protocol is open for signature by any United Nations member state or specialised agency. It enters into force when seven governments ratify, approve or adhere to it.
  • The regulation has applied since 3 December 2017.

BACKGROUND

For further information, see:

MAIN DOCUMENTS

International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (OJ L 162, 18.6.1986, pp. 34–38).

Successive amendments to the International Convention for Conservation of Atlantic Tunas have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

Protocol to amend the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (OJ L 313, 4.12.2019, pp. 3–13).

Council Decision 86/238/EEC of 9 June 1986 on the accession of the Community to the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, as amended by the Protocol annexed to the Final Act of the Conference of Plenipotentiaries of the States Parties to the Convention signed in Paris on 10 July 1984 (OJ L 162, 18.6.1986, p. 33).

Council Decision (EU) 2019/2025 of 18 November 2019 on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, and the provisional application of the Protocol to amend the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (OJ L 313, 4.12.2019, pp. 1–2).

Regulation (EU) 2017/2107 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 November 2017 laying down management, conservation and control measures applicable in the Convention area of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), and amending Council Regulations (EC) No 1936/2001, (EC) No 1984/2003 and (EC) No 520/2007 (OJ L 315, 30.11.2017, pp. 1–39).

See consolidated version.

last update 17.01.2022

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