Under French law, the TAC, 'Total Allowable Catch, is "for a determined stock, [the] quantity in weight of catch that is determined as a limit not to be exceeded, in view of a biological analysis of the current state of the stock, in order to ensure the sustainability of its exploitation " (definition adopted in application of Decree n° 96-602 of 3 July 1996).
In other terms for a species of fish, the TAC is the maximum quantity (or more precisely, the weight) of fish that can be reasonably caught in order to prevent the species from being threatened. If too much fish is caught during one year, there will not be enough fish left to renew the stock the next year. Gradually, populations of this species decrease and in the end, the species is endangered. The TAC has the precise objective of preventing this type of situation, but despite these measures, red tuna is threatened due to over-fishing (and especially illegal fishing).
Adjusting the TAC numbers
The TAC numbers are determined by the European Commission based on scientific recommendations and only concern European countries.
A quota (portion of the TAC) is then assigned to each country of the European Union, which is then split between each fishing zone (European waters are divided into 7 zones, which are then each divided into sub-zones).
Traditionally, the TAC numbers were announced in December for the following year, but increasingly, for certain species, TACs are multi-year.
The TAC for red tuna in 2011 is 12,900 tonnes and 5,756 tonnes for the European Union. The red dot means that the stock is no longer within the biological safety limit. Despite all of that, fishing continues... © European Commission 2011