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Tuna fisheries are in crisis. The current management of tuna is not effective enough to reverse the trend of tuna population decline.

WWF is addressing this problem by advocating a new blueprint that pursues a more multi-disciplinary approach to reinforce current fisheries-based conservation measures.

Yellowfin Tuna carried by a fisherman in the Philippines


The wealth of the Coral Triangle
The waters of the Coral Triangle are spawning grounds for skipjack, yellowfin, and bigeye tuna—fisheries that feed millions, provide livelihood and jobs, sustain economies, and help maintain a healthy ecosystem.

The region produces 30% of global tuna landings of these species, and half of the landings from the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, with an estimated annual landed value of USD 2 billion dollars.

Tuna processing plants in Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands provide tens of thousands of jobs to women.

Fisheries in crisis

Tuna species are declining at an alarmingly rapid rate, primarily because of human greed. Overfishing due to Illegal, Unregulated, and Undocumented (IUU) fishing, significant juvenile tuna catches, and the capture of endangered, threatened, or protected (ETP) species has resulted in the serial depletion of populations in many areas to critical limits.

Because tuna is a highly migratory species that requires the cooperation of all stakeholders to improve management across its vast geographic range, its fisheries have also become a highly political arena.

Multiplicity of interests has made it a challenge to put in place policies that follow scientific guidelines while still considering the interests of governments and other stakeholders, often resulting in weak governance and ineffective management.

 © WWF

A Tuna Blueprint: Recovering the Wealth of Tuna

To address the crisis, WWF is championing a Tuna Blueprint that employs a multi-country sociocultural approach to engage stakeholders in addressing the bigger picture of faster and more effective population recovery.

Since juvenile capture—the harvesting of fish before they can mature, breed, and propagate the species—is a key issue in fisheries-based conservation, the Tuna Blueprint identifies 4 large areas, including 3 transboundary ones, for protection, to allow species to complete their critical life stages.

Map of 4 critical areas for tuna blueprint

WWF is aspiring for this ambitious yet attainable goal which could potentially ensure the sustainability of the resource; save millions in foregone losses due to juvenile tuna exploitation; and achieve food security for people who depend on the species for survival.

Tuna blueprint milestones

Protecting a treasure

Progress towards improvements in tuna fisheries management in the Coral Triangle:
  • The skipjack fisheries of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) coalition, of which Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are founding members, have been Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified.
  • Most Coral Triangle countries have undertaken various policy reforms through their respective Tuna Management Plans.
  • Fishery improvement projects (FIPs) are ongoing in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
  • With the collaboration of Traceall Global Ltd, an electronic catch documentation scheme (e-CDS) prototype has been developed to collect important fisheries information, enabling the tracking of tunas from the boat to the point of retail sale.
  • A Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) model has been developed which we aim to test as a mechanism to solve the problem of juvenile tuna capture.
A pathway to success
WWF hopes to gain the support and commitment of governments and leading agencies to harness the political will required to implement the Tuna Blueprint. Investment in this framework will yield not only tremendous financial gains from a rejuvenated and better-managed industry, but also the priceless benefits of ecosystem integrity and human well-being.

How you can help

  • If you eat tuna, check out WWF's sustainable seafood guides to make sure you are making food choices that help save tuna
  • You're in the tuna industry? Let's talk about ways to help you improve your sustainability practices.