New U.S. Commissioner to the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission

President Obama recently appointed Barry Thom, NOAA Fisheries Deputy Regional Administrator of the West Coast Region, as one of the four United States Commissioners to the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Mr. Thom has filled the temporary appointment as the Alternate United States Commissioner to the IATTC since April of 2014.

The IATTC is an international fishery management organization formed in 1949 to facilitate international cooperation among tuna fishing nations in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The IATTC monitors and assesses populations of tuna, billfish, and shark species, as well as recommends appropriate conservation measures to maintain catch at sustainable levels.

The IATTC is comprised of 21 member nations and four cooperating non-members. The membership includes: Belize, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, European Union, France, Guatemala, Japan, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Chinese Taipei, United States, Vanuatu, and Venezuela. Cooperating non-members include Bolivia, Honduras, Indonesia, and Liberia.

In July 2014, Mr. Thom led the United States delegation at the 87th annual IATTC meeting in Lima, Peru, where two important resolutions were adopted to deter illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The adopted resolutions include: an amended resolution to require vessel monitoring systems on large fishing vessels, and an amended vessel register resolution to require unique vessel identifiers on large fishing vessels. Both resolutions are available on the IATTC website. NOAA Fisheries is working on proposed regulations to implement these actions domestically.

Recently, the IATTC adopted conservation and management measures for Pacific bluefin tuna at an October 2014 meeting in La Jolla, California. Recent stock assessments have shown Pacific bluefin tuna are overfished and that measures are necessary to reduce fishing pressure and assist the population in rebuilding. NOAA Fisheries is currently working on domestic regulations to limit catch of Pacific bluefin tuna. For more information see NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region website.  

In upcoming meetings, the IATTC will continue to recommend measures based on updated stock information for Pacific bluefin tuna along with other tuna, billfish, and shark species, to promote sustainable catch levels into the future.

For more information about NOAA Fisheries’ management of highly migratory species.