Strict catch limits to save bluefin tuna are needed in the Pacific, WWF tells commission | WWF

Strict catch limits to save bluefin tuna are needed in the Pacific, WWF tells commission

Posted on 20 June 2016    
Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) schooling, Mexico.
© / Visuals Unlimited / WWF
Gland, Switzerland, 20 June. WWF urges the members of the Eastern Pacific fisheries commission assembling in La Jolla, California, USA next week to maintain the catch quotas for the depleted Pacific bluefin tuna stocks and adopt additional more stringent management measures to compensate the existing overcapacity. According to the assessment conducted in 2014 bluefin tuna stocks in the Eastern Pacific are still highly depleted with no sign of rebuilding their numbers.

Pablo Guerrero, WWF Eastern Pacific Ocean tuna coordinator said:

“We are concerned that the recovery of the bluefin stock will be further delayed if the current scenario continues, where the majority of catches are juveniles, and the number of mature individuals has declined precipitously. Only a significant reduction of catches of juveniles and strict measures to protect both juveniles and adults can ensure long-term sustainability of this important fishery.”

In addition to further preserving the quota of 6600 tons of catch established for 2015 and 2016 WWF asks the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC1) to monitor the stock closely to ensure the quotas are respected to allow the rebuilding of the stock. The IATTC and its sister body the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) need to adopt a rigorous, long-term Pacific-wide recovery plan for Pacific bluefin tuna with robust harvest control rules2 and explicit science-based catch limits in order to end overfishing and rebuild Pacific bluefin tuna population to a level that can ensure its viability.

As the situation of yellowfin and bigeye tuna in the region is also serious, WWF demands the adoption of urgent measures such as harvest control rules and limit reference points3 for all tropical tuna fisheries that allow managers to act swiftly to ensure that catches do not exceed any acceptable limits. It is for this reason that WWF supports the proposal by Ecuador to adopt harvest control rules for tropical tunas.

WWF is also concerned about the fact that the operative capacity of the purse seine fleet as of April 2016 has increased by 11% over the previous three years. Such an increase will most likely lead to overfishing of yellowfin and bigeye stocks, unless IATTC adopts additional measures to prevent this. WWF urges the Commission to support the adoption of additional measures such as extending the length of the purse seine fishery closure from 62 to 87 days as recommended by the scientific staff of the IATTC, implementing a quota management program and extending the time/area closure known as “El Corralito”.

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.
[2]A harvest control rule is the pre-agreed management action taken in response to changes in the fishery and/or changes in abundance status in relation to reference points.
The adoption of harvest control rules is a key aspect of modern fisheries management and is also a requirement of important eco-label certification programs such as the Marine Stewardship Council.
 [3]Reference point: a benchmark value that helps managers decide how the fishery is performing and is based on an indicator such as fishery stock size or the level of fishing.
For more detailed information:
  • Pablo Guerrero, Eastern WWF Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator, , Cel+593 9 99204171
  • Julio Mario Fernandez,Communications Director, WWF-LAC
  • ,   Cel + 593 9 83356421 / Office + 593 2 2554783,  
Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) schooling, Mexico.
© / Visuals Unlimited / WWF Enlarge

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