The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas is responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas. The organization was established at a Conference of Plenipotentiaries, which prepared and adopted the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas [download the Basic Texts, including the Convention, 389Kb], signed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1966. After a ratification process, the Convention entered formally into force in 1969.
The official languages of ICCAT are English, French and Spanish.
About 30 species are of direct concern to ICCAT: Atlantic bluefin (Thunnus thynnus thynnus), skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis), yellowfin (Thunnus albacares), albacore (Thunnus alalunga) and bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus); swordfish (Xiphias gladius); billfishes such as white marlin (Tetrapturus albidus), blue marlin (Makaira nigricans), sailfish (Istiophorus albicans) and spearfish (Tetrapturus pfluegeri); mackerels such as spotted Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus) and king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla); and, small tunas like black skipjack (Euthynnus alletteratus), frigate tuna (Auxis thazard), and Atlantic bonito (Sarda sarda).
Through the Convention, it is established that ICCAT is the only fisheries organization that can undertake the range of work required for the study and management of tunas and tuna-like fishes in the Atlantic. Such studies include research on biometry, ecology, and oceanography, with a principal focus on the effects of fishing on stock abundance. The Commission's work requires the collection and analysis of statistical information relative to current conditions and trends of the fishery resources in the Convention area. The Commission also undertakes work in the compilation of data for other fish species that are caught during tuna fishing ("bycatch", principally sharks) in the Convention area, and which are not investigated by another international fishery organization.