Target: Guillermo Compeán, Director of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission
Goal: Protect imperiled tuna and other migratory fish species in the eastern Pacific.
Commercial and recreational overfishing of fisheries in the eastern Pacific has reached a dangerous tipping point due to poor regulation. Subsistence fishermen are forced to give up their trade as fisheries are depleted and marine ecosystems are thrown off balance.
Increasingly efficient fishing equipment and methods have turned previously manageable fishing practices into unsustainable disasters waiting to happen. Purse seiners and fishing trawlers release massive nets that scoop up entire schools of fish at once, as well as any other marine life that gets in the way. Large commercial fleets of these fishing boats have descended on the clear waters of the eastern Pacific, and the migratory species that rely on these waterways are being caught by the millions.
What little international regulation exists for monitoring commercial and recreational fishing limits is insufficient and outdated. Recent studies show that the populations of several key migrating species are overfished and face a serious crisis if the issue isn’t addressed. The Pacific bluefin tuna has been especially hard hit by irresponsible fishing practices, and it’s estimated that their current population is at less than three percent of their previous unfished levels. Multiple environmental organizations are pushing to get the bluefin tuna classified as an endangered species, and it’s clear that a solution to the overfishing problem is urgently needed.
The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) is the only organization regulating fishing practices in international waters in the eastern Pacific, focusing on tuna and other migratory marine species. The IATTC was founded in 1949 by a partnership between the U.S. and Costa Rica, and has since expanded to include 21 member states as well as various cooperating non-member states.
However, the regulations imposed by the IATTC are insufficient and poorly enforced. They barely meet the basic requirements set out by the U.N. Fish Stocks Agreement, and experts believe that they are hurting populations of migratory marine species rather than helping them. The IATTC needs to seriously increase their regulation and enforcement of fishing practices, or the bluefin tuna and other species will soon be beyond help.
Dear Mr. Compeán,
The fisheries of the eastern Pacific are being depleted faster than they can be replenished. Entire schools of key migratory species are caught in massive nets in international waters, and because of lax regulations and enforcement of international agreements, this environmental injustice goes unpunished.
The IATTC’s current regulations of fishing practices are not doing enough to prevent overfishing and keep populations of Pacific bluefin tuna and other migratory species from decreasing. Further, enforcement of these regulations is slow and ineffective. The IATTC must do better if these species are to survive the coming decades.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Joachim Müllerchen