- Tuna fishery is an important activity worldwide. In the
eastern Pacific Ocean the effort applied by the Pacific Ocean
fleet to catch tuna fish is considerable. The eastern Pacific
tuna fleet harvests throughout the oceans and captures an
important fraction of this resource. For instance, in 1980 the
total catch of the Eastern Pacific fleet was 369,096 short
tons while in 1987 the total catch of this fleet was 395,064
short tons (IATTC, 1980; IATTC, 1987).
The tuna fishery is an activity that generates high
revenues. Consequently, many nations are involved in the
harvest of these fish. The participation of several countries
makes necessary the implementation of international policies
regulating the harvest of the tuna resource. According to
Joseph (1979), the international utilization of tuna needs to
be regulated in order to avoid the depletion of the resource,
as well as to maintain the fishery at sustainable levels and
to preserve the tuna industry.
Tuna management in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean has
had important changes after the implementation of the
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the United Nations Conference
of the Law of the Sea III (UNCLOS III). After some of the
coastal countries declared total jurisdiction on all the
resources in their 200 mile sea territory, it was necessary to review and implement regulations according to the new
To date Mexico is one of the most important participants
in the tuna fishery practiced in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
The Mexican government and the Mexican fishing industry have
the objectives to satisfy the internal demand, increase the
exports and exercise the sovereign rights over fish resources,
including highly migratory species, in the Mexican Exclusive
Economic Zone (EEZ) (Panorama Atunero, 1989; Salinas de
Gortari, 1989). The Mexican EEZ, about 3 million square
kilometers is comprised of four regions which are separated
due to the specific ecologic and oceanographic conditions of
each area (Figure 1) (SEPESCA, 1988). Among all the fisheries
activities in Mexico, tuna fishery is one of the most valuable
since the Mexican tuna has an important international market.
In addition, the Mexican tuna industry has made an important
investment for the capture and processing of tuna; therefore,
one of the goals of this industry is to recover its
Fisheries around the world are managed by applying
several alternatives. The application of some of these
management alternatives to the Mexican tuna fishery are
presented in this study. These management alternatives have
the common objective of obtaining the Maximum Sustainable
Yield or the Maximum Economic Yield.
Exploitation of the tuna resource represents a management problem and has created international conflicts because for
some nations it is a "highly migratory species", and the
concept of ownership by any nation may not be recognized .
Indeed, the migration patterns of tuna have influenced the
management of this resource in the eastern Pacific Ocean
(EPO). On the other hand, most of the coastal nations with
tunas present in their EEZ (called Resource Adjacent Nations
or RANs) state that they have sovereign rights over the
resources of their EEZ based on the UNCLOS III (Joseph, 1979).
Consequently, international conflicts and disagreements are
present while the nations involved in the tuna fishery try to
reach an agreement for harvest of this resource. Therefore, it
is necessary to formulate appropriate national and
international alternatives for the management of the tuna
To date, many fishing countries have applied management
alternatives to obtain the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY)
instead of the Maximum Economic Yield (MEY) (Tietenberg,
1988). Economists have proposed that the MEY might be a better
objective to manage the fishery resources since it maximizes
the rent from the fishery (Townsend and Wilson, 1988).