Pacific tuna trapped in a sea of uncertainty | WWF
Pacific tuna trapped in a sea of uncertainty

Posted on 19 July 2016

Pablo Guerrero, WWF’s Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator, made the following statement at the closing of the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission’s (IATTC) annual meeting
Gland, Switzerland 19 July. Pablo Guerrero, WWF’s Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator, made the following statement at the closing of the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission’s (IATTC) annual meeting held in the United States at the end of June:
“WWF is disappointed that the members of the Commission failed to reach an agreement on the recommendations suggested by the IATTC scientific staff, to extend the fishing ban for bigeye tuna and yellowfin tuna to a total of 87 days in order to ensure sustainable fishing in the region. Scientists recommended to extend the fishing ban which is necessary because of the continued increase of fishing capacity in the Eastern Pacific and the degradation of resources, especially bigeye tuna. Discussions will resume at an extraordinary meeting to be held in October.”
“It is disappointing for WWF to have to wait three months to remedy this situation. However, the situation could be balanced and we hope that delegates will agree on favorable solutions for the conservation of tropical tuna stocks. We know that some countries, like Ecuador and other coastal States of the Eastern Pacific, will return with alternative proposals for fisheries management that maintain the levels of tuna stock while ensuring the dynamism of the fishing industry. WWF will remain committed to the adoption of conservation measures  aligned with the best possible scientific advice.”
“There were no advances regarding the conservation of the Pacific bluefin tuna stock that is about to collapse. The decisions were deferred to the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), which is the regional fisheries organization that together with the IATTC, shares the responsibility for the management of tuna stocks in Pacific Ocean. WWF considers that both regional fisheries organizations must assume their responsibility regarding tuna  stocks and adopt urgent and strict measures to protect Pacific bluefin tuna and give this fishery a chance to be sustainable.”
“A positive aspect of the meeting was the adoption of harvest control rules for tropical tunas, a proposal presented by Ecuador and supported by WWF. This action represents a first step that will allow administrators to act quickly and effectively under a prearranged standard, to ensure that harvests do not exceed acceptable limits, which will contribute to the sustainability of this resource and the constant supply of fish to our markets. The adoption of harvest control rules is a key aspect of modern fisheries management and a demand of several eco labeling programs. WWF will monitor that the rules adopted are evaluated by scientists to ensure technical robustness.”

“With regards to the conservation of sharks, the progress in the IATTC was limited. The US proposal, which includes the evaluation of silky  and hammerhead shark stocks, was approved. A silky shark conservation proposal presented by the EU, Costa Rica, Belice, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and the United States was also approved. This proposal was aligned with the recommendations of the IATTC’s scientific staff, and creates limits to the accidental capture of the species; prohibits the use of wire leaders on longlines and requires parties to collect information about the silky. WWF believes that this is just one step in the right direction. The EU proposal on the landing of sharks with attached fins was not approved due to socioeconomic considerations. This was another missed opportunity to improve data collection and fisheries management of shark populations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.”
“Tuna resources of the Eastern Pacific are the support of a multimillion dollar industry that maintains the  livelihoods of tens of thousands of people and contribute to the economic growth and social development in the region. For this reason, it is critical that in October member countries of the IATTC reach an agreement, and maintain and expand their commitment to responsible management in order to achieve sustainable fisheries. Otherwise, we will see the collapse of fish stocks which will unleash a domino effect that will impact the industry, significantly reducing the number of jobs generated and the economic growth of some countries.”
“We were waiting for a decision to drastically reduce the risks of the collapse of the Pacific bluefin tuna and for measures to avoid that fishing of tropical tuna continues the same way as before. Even though many  decisions are deferred until October, member states still have time to act to avoid a critical situation. What happens with tropical tuna and bluefin tuna is not just a matter of a successful business. It is related to the health of oceans and the provision of food supply in the world. The conservation measures to guarantee the sustainability of tuna and of the industry are urgent actions that require the support from governments, the scientific community, civil society and the fishing sector. If we do not preserve tuna today, we will not have a chance tomorrow.”

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,  
Northern bluefin tuna, Spain
© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF