For decades overfishing has been a major concern, but new tuna quotas utilise scientists’ recommendations to achieve a sustainable fishing effort. Despite recent tuna increases, The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), who set tuna fishing regulations, decided to set only a small increase in tuna fishing quotas, to allow population recovery.
Many tuna species have shown decreased populations as a direct result of overfishing, such as the bluefin tuna, which fell by 60% between 1997 and 2007. These declines, their high market demand, and the negative effects of tuna fishing on other species were cause for quota implementation. Recent evidence suggests a rebounding of tuna populations, but scientists warn that caution must be used when adjusting regulations, due to their still low numbers and fragile state. Concern over the long-term sustainability of conservation action has been previously raised, with scientists stressing the need to allow recovery from depleted states even when populations are increasing.
With pressure exerted on regulatory bodies by fisheries, the proper use of science when setting fishing limits has often been previously ignored. The relatively low increase in ICCAT 2013 quotas, however, helps break this trend by including science in policy-making. Such action helps guide the way towards more informed and sustainable marine use.