Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC)


The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) is an international commission responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and other species caught by tuna-fishing vessels in the eastern Pacific Ocean (generally east of the 150° W meridian). It is the oldest of the regional tuna management bodies, created in 1949 by a Convention between Costa Rica and the United States.

In 1966, the IATTC initiated the first tuna fishery management program, which limited the annual catch of yellowfin. The Commission’s records on catch collections date back to 1934. Current members of the IATTC include Belize, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, European Union, France, Guatemala, Japan, Kiribati, South Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Chinese Taipei, United States, Vanuatu, and Venezuela.

Bolivia, Honduras, Indonesia, and Liberia are Cooperating Non-Members.


Decisions are made by consensus and are binding.11

In broad terms, the IATTC collects catch data on fish sizes, quantities and locations of catch, the amount of fishing effort generated to make the catches, as well as biological information on age, growth, and reproduction for analysis purposes. These are used by the IATTC’s scientific staff to formulate mathematical models to estimate the impact of fishing on the stock. If the studies indicate that fishing needs to be reduced in order to sustain maximum yields, the IATTC Director formulates conservation recommendations to present to the member nations.

The members can accept the recommendations, accept them with modifications, or reject them. If the recommendation is to be accepted, it must be by unanimous consent of all members. Cooperating non-members may not vote, but can choose to be bound by the decisions of the IATTC. Decisions are binding on the members as well as any cooperating non-member that agrees to be bound by it.

Each member government bears the responsibility to implement national legislation to ensure that vessels flying their flag comply with the program. Enforcement is the responsibility of the flag state, but the IATTC monitors compliance.


The FAO’s International Plans of Action (IPOAs) on Capacity and IUU both call, inter alia, for the elimination of all factors causing overcapacity and IUU fishing, including subsidies. Based on these IPOAs, the IATTC developed the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) plan. The EPO is a policy document that established the general framework for managing the capacity of the tuna fleets in the eastern Pacific, including provisions on subsidies.

In 2003, the members of the IATTC began entering into the Antigua Convention (AC), which strengthens the Commission's powers. IATTC members then adopted a revised version of the EPO plan. However, the subsidies language from the previous EPO plan was not included in the revised plan and was replaced by more general references to the IPOAs.

What could the IATTC produce/do on fisheries subsidies?

Under the Antigua Convention, specific recommendations on subsidies could be produced through two committees: (i) the committee for the review of implementation of measures adopted by the commission, and (ii) the scientific advisory committee.12 Review of the record shows that these committees (in their format prior to the AC) tried to get members to adopt specific language (in the revised EPO plan) regarding the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies leading to overcapacity and depletion of stocks.

More generally, the IATTC is another useful forum through which the subsidies discussion could be advanced, with the aim of priming nations to take meaningful action on the matter within a 5-year to 10-year timeframe.


Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission
8901 La Jolla Shores Drive
La Jolla CA 92037
United States

Tel: +1 (858) 546-7100
Fax: +1 (858) 546-7133

Email: [email protected]

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