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 products in 2007 was approximately 1.1 billion pounds with an estimated wholesale value of 1.75 billion dollars. 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 International 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.