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February 18, 2018 2:50 am EST
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United States Pushes for Action at Global Tuna Summit

The United States participated in the first ever joint meeting of the world's five tuna regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) in Kobe, Japan during the week of January 22, 2007. These organizations are responsible for the management of highly migratory species, such as bluefin tuna and swordfish, throughout the world's oceans. The groups represented at the meeting included the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT).

The newly reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act calls for the United States to use multilateral activities such as the Kobe meeting to strengthen regional action on illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and bycatch. The issue of IUU fishing was discussed throughout the week, particularly as it related to overcapacity and effects on non-target species. In addition, the meeting included discussion of performance evaluations for each of the five tuna RFMOs as has been called for by the U.N. Fish Stocks Agreement Review Conference.

Participants agreed to a "Course of Action", which lays out 14 key areas and challenges facing the tuna RFMOs. Within this course of action was the formation of a technical Working Group to look at issues such as harmonization of trade tracking programs. The United States will host the first meeting of the technical Working Group and a meeting of the tuna RFMO Chairs as part of the follow up to the Kobe meeting.

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