Found in temperate waters throughout the world's oceans, tuna is a
much sought after fish species due to its importance as a global commodity.
In the United States alone, the supply of tuna and tuna products was
approximately 877 million pounds with an estimated wholesale value of
$1.77 billion in 2009. In order to ensure the
long-term conservation and the sustainable use of tuna stocks, international
research and management organizations have been formed around the world.
Due to the unique association between tuna and dolphins found only
in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean (ETP), and the purse seine fishery it supports,
protection of dolphin stocks has become a priority for the United States. As a result, the
Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act was passed in 1990.
One of the mandates of this legislation was the establishment of a national tuna tracking
program. In 1999, the United States signed on as a Party to the
Agreement on the
International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP). In addition to other requirements,
the AIDCP mandates the establishment of an international tuna tracking program for tuna
caught in the ETP. The
Dolphin Conservation Program Act amended the
Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to
make the objectives and requirements of the AIDCP legally effective in the United States.