Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

November 07, 2005 16:51 ET

DFO: Regan Appoints Commissioners to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 7, 2005) - Geoff Regan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today announced the appointment of James Douglas Fraser and the re-appointment of Sam Elsworth as Canadian Commissioners to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

"I am pleased that Mr. Fraser has accepted to serve as Commissioner to the organization. His knowledge of conservation and management of tuna and other pelagic fish species as well as the fishing industry will be invaluable to ICCAT," said Minister Regan. "I am also pleased that Mr. Elsworth has agreed to continue his valued and important work as a Canadian Commissioner to ICCAT."

Mr. Fraser, of Alberton, Prince Edward Island, replaces Barry Dean, whose term has expired. A self-employed inshore fisherman, he owns and operates Alberton Fisheries Ltd. The company purchases and markets fish and seafood and provides supplies to local fishermen. Mr. Fraser is the Co-Chairman of the P.E.I. Tuna Advisory Committee. He was a Canadian Commissioner to ICCAT in 2000-02 and also participated on the Canadian delegation at the 2003 International ICCAT meeting in Dublin, Ireland.

Mr. Elsworth, of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, is president of Elsworth Consulting Services Limited. He has served as member to several fisheries associations including the Eastern Fishermen's Federation, Nova Scotia Swordfishermen's Association and the Scotia-Fundy Large Pelagic Advisory Committee. He was also a three-term advisor to the Canadian delegation at the United Nations Conference on straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.

Formed in 1969, ICCAT is the regional fisheries management organization (RFMO) responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and tuna-like species, such as swordfish and bluefin tuna, in the Atlantic and adjacent seas, including the Mediterranean. Canada is one of the organization's 41 Contracting Parties, along with countries from North, Central and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Like other RFMOs, ICCAT is addressing various conservation and management issues, such as unsustainable fishing practices and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Canada plays a significant role at ICCAT and is a strong advocate for the precautionary approach to stock management. Identifying ways to strengthen the management of global fish stocks and improve international fisheries governance, including within ICCAT, is an important element of Canada's approach to combat overfishing.


Canada and the International Commission for the

Conservation of Atlantic Tunas

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is a regional fisheries management organization responsible for the management of tuna, swordfish and other related large pelagics in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. There are currently 41 Contracting Parties to ICCAT that range from North, South and Central America to Europe and Africa, as well as distant-water fishing nations in Asia. Canada has been a member since the organization was established in 1969.

The roughly 30 species of concern to ICCAT have an annual landed value in the Atlantic Ocean of about $3 billion. The Canadian fisheries involving these species, mainly bluefin tuna and swordfish, have an annual landed value of approximately $35 million with over 1,000 licensed fishers. In 2005, Canada's total allowable catch of bluefin tuna was 737.13 tonnes (t): 678.04 t to the inshore fishery, 39.09 t to the swordfish longline fleet for bluefin bycatch, and 20 t to the offshore tuna licence for bluefin bycatch.


There are roughly 30 species of direct concern to ICCAT. These
- tunas, such as Atlantic bluefin, skipjack, yellowfin, albacore and
- swordfish;
- billfishes, such as white marlin, blue marlin, sailfish and
- mackerels, such as spotted Spanish mackerel and king mackerel; and
- small tunas, such as black skipjack, frigate and Atlantic bonito.

Tunas and tuna-like fish are highly migratory species that frequently cross vast distances in national and international waters. Compiling relevant catch and scientific data for these species in the Atlantic is one of ICCAT's challenges. Without proper data, scientists are unable to conduct the necessary stock assessments.

Canada has been a strong advocate for conservation and taking the "precautionary approach" to stock management, which has met with resistance by some ICCAT Contracting Parties. Total allowable catch levels are frequently set above recommended scientific advice, and there continues to be large catches of small and juvenile fish that could have serious long-term effects on these fisheries.

Another major challenge for ICCAT is managing recent rapid growth, particularly the addition of many developing countries as members. The increasing number of Contracting Parties presents challenges for ICCAT to maintain efficient and effective functioning of the organization. Many developing nations also lack the necessary capacity to implement agreements such as the United Nations Fish Agreement, or to handle challenges, such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

ICCAT leads other regional fisheries management organizations in using trade sanctions to combat the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity. The organization also maintains a list of vessels suspected of engaging in these activities in the ICCAT Convention Area.

ICCAT is another important forum where Canada will push for stronger conservation and management measures and improved adherence to existing measures. These objectives are consistent with Canada's strategy to reform regional fisheries management organizations, combat overfishing and improve international fisheries governance.

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Steve Outhouse
    Media Relations
    (613) 998-1530
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Office of the Minister
    Sujata Raisinghani
    Press Secretary
    (613) 992-3474