October 28, 2021
On October 13-15, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) held three successful ‘Ambassador Webinars’ to explain and gather support for the Atlantic bluefin tuna Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) process. Each webinar was offered in either English, French, or Spanish, providing a forum for stakeholders from across the world to have substantive discussion in their native languages. The Bluefin Tuna Ambassadors Program is an initiative that was pioneered by ICCAT’s science body, the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS), with the goal of fostering understanding and engagement in the bluefin tuna MSE process ahead of the upcoming Panel 2 meeting on November 12th, the first in a series of dialogue meetings in the lead up to MSE completion next year. In total, over 100 participants attended from a wide range of member states.
As ICCAT gears up to adopt a long-term management procedure (also known as a harvest strategy) for Western and Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna in 2022, dialogue and education about the development of MSE, a tool that is used to test the effectiveness of candidate management procedures, is critical. The bluefin tuna MSE process has been underway since 2014 and is nearing completion. The successful development and adoption of the bluefin tuna management procedure relies on active engagement from fishery managers and many diverse stakeholders throughout the MSE process. Therefore, a forum for parties to provide feedback and direction and request additional components to be evaluated within the MSE is essential. Each ambassador session began with a detailed presentation summarizing the MSE approach, using some of harveststrategies.org’s MSE communication slide templates, and substantive discussion followed. The chairs of the meetings noted that all participants’ suggestions would be considered as the MSE is finalized.
In addition, there has been a significant effort to familiarize and engage European stakeholders on the harvest strategy process and how an MSE-tested management procedure will affect the future management of Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea bluefin tuna. On July 19, 2021, a joint stakeholder meeting on the bluefin tuna MSE process was held by the South-Western Waters Advisory Council (SWWAC) and the Mediterranean Advisory Council (MEDAC). The meeting was attended by 45 stakeholders and included presentations from leading bluefin tuna scientists and MSE ambassadors. Along with this meeting, both SWWAC and MEDAC have hosted multiple working group meetings in April and October that included discussions on the bluefin tuna MSE. Various questions have been raised about the technicalities of the methodology, uncertainty surrounding the stock assessment, and mixing between the Eastern and Western component of the stock. The joint workshop was an important step by European stakeholders to publicize and disseminate information regarding the BFT MSE and led to a recommendation to the European Commission calling for continued consultation and collaboration as adoption of a full management procedure nears.