The Atlantic-wide research programme for bluefin tuna was officially adopted by the ICCAT Commission in 2008. The SCRS, in 2009, identified the priorities of the Research Plan as:
1. Improve basic data collection through data mining;
2. Improve understanding of key biological and ecological processes; and
3. Improve assessment models and provision of scientific advice.
An External Peer Review of the Programme was conducted in 2013. This project provided the Second External Peer Review of the Programme. The review was conducted by Mr John Pearce and Dr Michael Sissenwine. It found that the GBYP has been a success and it was recommended that it should be continued. Advances in biological methods (genetics, otolith microchemistry and shape) to determine spawning ground origin of bluefin tuna have been particularly successful. It was identified that it is time for the GBYP to transition from an initial period of successful scientific research into providing operational streams of data to support mixed stock fishery management.
Programme highlights and limitations were analysed and reviewed and recommendations for each of the programme components (Biological studies, aerial surveys, tagging, modelling and programme coordination). The most important needs from the perspective of the reviewers, are to:
1. Take account of mixing of the different bluefin management units, or there may be a risk of unknowingly overfishing if mixing is ignored;
2. Address gaps in Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna fisheries data, particularly from in the late 1900s - early 2000s with the advent of purse seining and fish farming;
3. Develop a reliable measure of abundance for the Eastern Atlantic; and
4. Enhance understanding of the carrying capacity for Eastern and Western Atlantic.