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Bluefin tuna quota set for the first time in Eastern Pacific

Click on the flag for more information about Japan JAPAN
Friday, August 10, 2012, 23:40 (GMT + 9)

The catch quota for bluefin tuna in the Eastern Pacific Ocean was set for the first time at the annual meeting of the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) held in June in the US at 10,000 tonnes total over 2012 and 2013. The quota is not expected to affect fishers adversely.

“The catch quota, if it is once set, possibly leads into the declining trend gradually unless the stock condition shows recovery,” the Organisation for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries (OPRT) warned. “It is natural for fishers to believe that they eventually face the strict regulation and they want to avoid such management measures.”

As the bluefin tuna harvest in IATTC waters recently remained at 4,000 tonnes annually while the harvest had reached 7,800 tonnes in 2010 and 3,200 tonnes in 2011, this catch quota will not harm fishers. Further, as most of the harvest is used for farming in Mexico for subsequent export to Japan, this new quota is unlikely to reduce that supply. 

The new catch quota has significant meaning, according to the OPRT.

First, it has brought about the establishment of the conservation management systems for all waters covering Pacific bluefin tuna from the east to the west in the North Pacific. 
In 2009, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) adopted measures to ensure that fishing of bluefin tuna in the western Pacific would not be increased from the 2002-4 level based on advice from International Scientific Committee. It also adopted measures to reduce the catch of juveniles from the 2002-4 level and expressed the need to promote cooperation with the IATTC over the resource management of the species. 

The OPRT was hopeful the catch quota that has been set "stimulates the cooperation with WCPFC and establishes sufficient conservation measures for Pacific bluefin tuna.”

IATTC was unable to settle the management measures of bigeye and yellowfin tunas a few years ago, but this time, the quota setting for bluefin tuna might show the group’s improved ability to manage marine resources, because the catch quota has been set before resource levels fall to the endangered level, OPRT said.

The worry remains, however, that WCPFC may not manage the resource properly. This is because the revision of conservation management measures for bigeye and yellowfin tunas was shelved at the last annual meeting, and the WCPFC failed to restrain the increasing number of larger scale purse-seiners, OPRT noted. 

This issue may be settled at the WCPFC annual meeting in December.

Related article:

ISSF calls for reducing fishing of bigeye tuna

By Natalia Real



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