The Annual Meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission was held in La Jolla, California during the second week of June. As compared with other recent meetings of the Commission - which had focused primarily on the problems related with dolphin mortality in the fishery - the IATTC member nations spent the majority of time and effort discussing the problems of trying to limit fishing effort in the region.
Given the economic high stakes, the meeting was at times contentious, and in the end, the governments were unable to reach any definitive decisions. A special meeting of the Commission has been scheduled for early September to try and address the issue of fleet capacity.
Based on information presented to the meeting, the total dolphin mortality in the fishery was some 3004 animals. One of the unfortunate results of the meeting's time-consuming discussions was the inability of US government scientists to make a presentation regarding their proposed research plan on the effects of encirclement by tuna purse seiners on dolphin populations. One of the key components of the legislation passed last year, this study will be the basis of any decision to change the definition of dolphin safe tuna here in the United States.
Anyone interested in commenting on the US proposal should contact Dr. Liz Edwards at the NMFS Southwest Fisheries Service Center at 619-546-7000.
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