Adopt stringent measures or suspend commercial fishing of Pacific bluefin tuna, WWF tells Commission | WWF

Adopt stringent measures or suspend commercial fishing of Pacific bluefin tuna, WWF tells Commission

Posted on
04 October 2016
Gland, Switzerland, 4 October. WWF is highly concerned about the fate of Pacific bluefin tuna and urges fishing nations to agree on strict catch limits and a long-term recovery plan. Unless robust control and conservation measures are adopted, it is unlikely that the Pacific bluefin tuna stocks will recover.
The major Pacific tuna fishing nations covered by the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC)1 will reopen discussions next week in La Jolla, California about catch limits and rules for tropical tuna after failing to reach an agreement at their annual meeting in June.

Pablo Guerrero, WWF Eastern Pacific Ocean tuna coordinator said:

“The Pacific bluefin stock is in a dire state. The Commission urgently needs to expand the size threshold of juvenile Pacific bluefin tuna from the current 30kg to 85kg, and introduce a catch limit for adult Pacific bluefin tuna. We believe that unless a Pacific-wide, robust rebuilding and management plan is agreed, it will be necessary to suspend commercial fishing of this species. This is the only way to end overfishing, and to provide hope for a future recovery of the stock as well as for the fisheries targeting the Pacific bluefin”.

WWF urges the IATTC to adopt effective measures to avoid an increase in fishing mortality for all tropical tuna.  The Commission should reduce the capacity of the purse seine fleet, prolong the length of the purse seine fishery closure from 62 to 87 days, as recommended by the scientific staff of the IATTC, and extend the time/area closure known as “El Corralito”. WWF also supports effective alternative actions such as a quota management program with good monitoring and enforcement.

This meeting of the IATTC must also urgently address the growing concerns for the safety of observers aboard tuna vessels. The IATTC depends considerably on its observer program for effective fisheries management. Observers not only provide basic scientific information on fishing activities, but also play an indispensable role in monitoring compliance issues, through their reports to national authorities. Being an observer aboard tuna vessels could entails risks. In the exercise of their official duties, observers are vulnerable to assault, obstruction, resistance, intimidation or interference. After recent tragedies involving observers in the areas of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the IATTC, member states should urgently adopt measures for the safety of the fishing observer, and security standards compatible with those adopted by the WCPFC last year.
In that sense, WWF supports the proposal submitted by the US regarding the improvement of observer safety, and calls upon the IATTC to adopt it in order to preserve the valuable human capital of their observer programs, which constitute the cornerstone of the management system of the Commission.
Note to editors
[1] The IATTC is responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The members of the IATTC are: Belize, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, European Union, France, Guatemala, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, ChineseTaipei, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela.
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