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99th meeting (extraordinary) and 100th meeting of the IATTC
Press release

16 Aug 2022

The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission held its 99th meeting (extraordinary) on August 1 in Phoenix, Arizona, with the sole purpose of completing the process of selection and appointment of a new Director. This process had started in 2019 but had to be suspended because of the COVID 19 pandemic which made it impossible to hold presential meetings. The Heads of Delegation met in a closed session to interview successively the three shortlisted candidates, among which they selected Dr. Arnulfo Franco, from Panama, by secret ballot. The resumed plenary confirmed that selection and thus the designation of the new Director. Dr. Franco has a long association with the IATTC and with the AIDCP; he has a broad experience in the field, including as Director of Fisheries for several years in his country, as well as through his work in the sector and his teaching activities. His main academic background is marine biology, to which he added advanced studies in business administration. His period of four years at the helm of the IATTC Secretariat will start when he takes office before September 2022. It should be noted that 20 of the 21 IATTC members were personally present at the meeting. Only Kiribati was absent in spite of the best efforts that it had made in coordination with the Secretariat to be able to attend.

Immediately thereafter, the Commission held its 100th meeting. Several Cooperating Non-Members participated actively, either in person (Chile, Liberia) or remotely. A number of intergovernmental organizations and NGOs were also present in person and did actively participate in the meeting whenever specific issues of their particular concern and competence were being addressed, in addition to their submission, prior to the meeting, of background documents and position statements. 

As usual, the Commission faced the challenge of an agenda with numerous items to consider. At least, it had not to revisit the triennial measures for conservation and management of tuna resources in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO), which it had adopted in 2021 (Resolution C-21-04). Nonetheless, it received an updated and detailed presentation of the situation of the fisheries and the stocks in 2021, both in a document as well as through a comprehensive presentation made by the Coordinator of Scientific Research.

The attention of the Commission was drawn to the conclusions and recommendations of its subsidiary bodies that had met during the previous week (Committee for the Review of Implementation of Measures Adopted by the Commission (“Compliance Committee”); Committee on Administration and Finance; and Permanent Working Group on Fleet Capacity), as well as to those of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), and Ad Hoc Working Group on Fish-Aggregating Devices (FADs), which had met in May 2022. It generally endorsed them, as well as the recommendations from its scientific staff.

The only recommendation of the SAC that gave rise to a more extent discussion was that related to the establishment of an Electronic Monitoring Working Group. A compromise solution was found and could be adopted by consensus (Resolution C-22-07). It is also worth noting that the presentation of the report on the meeting the Working Group on Capacity of the Fleet and the discussion that followed led to a consensual clarification regarding the capacity of purse seine vessels with freezing holds that are not to be utilized as fish storage wells. 

In spite of the fact that the triennial cycle of conservation and management measures had already started, several members of the Commission had submitted 13 proposals of resolutions on a of topics: bluefin tuna; sharks; compliance; transshipments; Regional Vessel Register; North Pacific albacore; South Pacific albacore; Dorado (mahi mahi); closure periods; harvest control rules; observers on longliners.

Each of these proposals was presented and thoroughly discussed afterwards. Several could not reach the consensus needed for their adoption. Others, bearing on similar issues, were consolidated by their respective authors into one.
Following an intense negotiation, the Commission could finally reach a consensus and adopt six resolutions: on compliance (C-22-02), on transshipments (C-22-03); on North Pacific albacore (C-22-04); on closures (C-22-05); as well as, based on two Chair’s texts, on the Ecosystem and Bycatch Working Group (C-22-06) and on the Electronic Monitoring Working Group (C-22-07). Finally, the Commission adopted its budget for the year 2023 and the amount of each member’s contribution, as reflected in Resolution C-22-08

Under the agenda item on other matters, Costa Rica stressed the need to address the question of the marine biodiversity in the areas beyond national jurisdictions, with a view to ensure an appropriate representation of national fisheries authorities in the delegations participating in the process of negotiation of a new binding legal instrument and ensure that the activities and decisions of the RFBs and RFMOs be not affected by this new instrument and its implementation, consistent with the UN General Assembly Resolution that initiated the process and stipulated that it would not undermine existing relevant legal instruments and frameworks and relevant global, regional and sectoral bodies. Although all members acknowledged the need for such a representation, there was no consensus to adopt the proposed resolution, in particular because that proposal had not been submitted in advance of the meeting of the Commission.

Before adjourning, the Commission re-elected as its Chair Mr. Alfonso Miranda (Peru) and elected Mr. Enrique de la Vega (Colombia) as Vice chair. It also proceeded to elect the Chairs of its five Committees and working groups. 

The Commission decided that the next annual meetings would be held from 31 July to 11 August 2023 and expressed its utmost appreciation and gratitude for the generous invitation by Canada to host these meetings in a venue still to be announced by the Canadian authorities.