Failure to Adopt Recovery Plan Threatens Survival of Pacific Bluefin Tuna

Failure to Adopt Recovery Plan Threatens Survival of Pacific Bluefin Tuna


Inability to agree on a recovery plan for Pacific bluefin tuna at a meeting of the fisheries commission for the eastern Pacific Ocean presents a major risk to the seriously depleted species.

The commission was also unable to reduce fishing capacity that currently exceeds the optimal scientifically recommended level by at least 50 per cent.

Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) schooling, Mexico. (Photo by: © / Visuals Unlimited / WWF)

Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) schooling, Mexico.
(Photo by: © / Visuals Unlimited / WWF)

“It is extremely disappointing that the negotiations have produced so little in the way of protecting Pacific bluefin tuna stocks,” said Pablo Guerrero, WWF’s Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator.

“A rigorous recovery plan with strict measures, especially to protect juveniles, could have offered a chance for this fishery to recover. The failure to reach a decision means Pacific bluefin remain in danger of further depletion.”

According to scientists, the breeding stock of Pacific bluefin tuna are at only 4 per cent of original levels. This is the lowest level ever seen for any of the bluefin species. Ninety per cent of the current catch are juveniles that have yet to breed. As the 21 country members of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission delayed

important decisions to save Pacific tuna stocks, conservation measures need to be adopted by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Bali, Indonesia later this year to secure the future of the fishery. WWF is also concerned about tuna fishing over-capacity in the eastern Pacific Ocean as indicated by declining yellowfin and bigeye tuna stocks.

As disputes and claims for new capacity continued within the commission, nations were unable to reach clear agreements to design a reduction plan to reach the optimum capacity level for purse seine vessels established in the regional plan for capacity management in 2005. Current capacity largely exceeds limits established by the plan.

The fisheries commission also could not reach a consensus around a conservation measure to protect silky sharks in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Scientists have proven that the population of silky sharks has been in sharp decline over the last decade, and therefore recommended the adoption of precautionary measures to promote species recovery.

A positive outcome of the meeting was the approval of good practices for handling manta rays aboard purse seiners, including prohibiting the use of hooks to move the rays.

A commission decision to allow the collection and analysis of data on fish aggregating devices will give scientists access to information that will allow them to perform comprehensive analyses to advance the adoption of science-based management measures using the devices.

(Story courtesy of WWF.)

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