Tuna stocks are managed to keep numbers healthyÂ
Three organisations share responsibility for how tuna populations are managedÂ for the region as a whole. The sub-regional group of countries that are members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement also have rules that govern the management of tuna stocks in their waters.Â
FFA helps small island nations manageÂ tuna stocksÂ
TheÂ Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries AgencyÂ (FFA)Â takesÂ an ecosystem approach to managing fisheries.Â The agency helps its membersÂ to apply this approach to managing tuna fisheriesÂ underÂ theirÂ power.Â This is important support forÂ the 14Â smallÂ islandÂ developing states (SIDS) of the Western and CentralÂ PacificÂ Ocean.Â
AnÂ ecosystemÂ approachÂ puts management intoÂ the context of the whole food web and peopleâ€™s cultural, social and economic needs. Fisheries managers consider the health and abundance of tunaÂ and other desired fish.Â They may considerÂ factorsÂ that affect these. ForÂ example,Â a declining ecosystem,Â ad hocÂ management policies, and greater demand for tunaÂ can make it harder for tuna to thrive.Â
WCPFC sets management rules for the region
Management of the tuna fisheries is also central to the work of theÂ WesternÂ andÂ CentralÂ PacificÂ FisheriesÂ CommissionÂ (WCPFC).Â Its work covers theÂ exclusiveÂ economicÂ zonesÂ (EEZs)Â of countries in the region,Â asÂ wellÂ asÂ theÂ highÂ seasÂ of theÂ region.Â
WCPFCÂ isÂ theÂ centralÂ decision–makingÂ bodyÂ forÂ managingÂ tunaÂ fishingÂ inÂ theÂ Western and Central Pacific OceanÂ (WCPO).Â ItÂ was established in mid-2004 by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.Â
- usesÂ scientificÂ adviceÂ toÂ assessÂ currentÂ stocksÂ ofÂ tunaÂ andÂ otherÂ commercialÂ fisheriesÂ Â
- setsÂ bindingÂ rules, calledÂ conservationÂ andÂ managementÂ measuresÂ (CMMs),Â toÂ help maintainÂ sustainableÂ populationsÂ ofÂ allÂ commercialÂ fishÂ speciesÂ Â
- receivesÂ reportsÂ onÂ theÂ catchÂ andÂ harvestÂ ofÂ speciesÂ fromÂ members,Â participatingÂ territoriesÂ andÂ cooperativeÂ non-membersÂ
- revisesÂ andÂ updatesÂ CMMsÂ basedÂ onÂ reportsÂ andÂ newÂ scientificÂ information.Â
The convention requires the WCPFC toÂ consider the whole ecosystemÂ whenÂ it sets rules.Â TheÂ commissionÂ needs to take into account the impact of fishing on:Â
- target stocks, that is tuna and other fish that fishing nations seek to catchÂ
- non-target species, that is juvenile tuna that are too young to reproduce, and other fish and sea animalsÂ
- species that are often found with or depend on tuna and other target stocksÂ
- other species that that live in the same environment as the target stocksÂ
- the variety of species (biodiversity) in the ocean, and their dependence on each other to thrive.Â
SPC monitors fish numbers and health
TheÂ PacificÂ CommunityÂ (SPC)Â helpsÂ toÂ manageÂ theÂ Pacificâ€™sÂ tuna and other speciesÂ byÂ monitoringÂ andÂ assessingÂ fishÂ stocks.Â It does this through itsÂ Oceanic Fisheries Programme.Â Â
SPCÂ managesÂ theÂ worldâ€™sÂ largestÂ internationalÂ fisheriesÂ database.Â ParticipatingÂ countriesÂ provideÂ standardisedÂ dataÂ onÂ fishingÂ operations. TheÂ first records were received in 1950, and theÂ databaseÂ nowÂ holds aboutÂ 2.7Â millionÂ records. They have come fromÂ moreÂ thanÂ 9,000Â differentÂ fishingÂ vessels.Â
PNA has extra rules that cover the worldâ€™s largest purse-seine tuna fishery
TheÂ Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) covers the worldâ€™s largest sustainable fishery of tuna caught by purse-seine vessels.Â Eight countries have signed theÂ agreement. Between them, they provide about 50% of the global supply of skipjack tuna, the most commonly canned tuna.
The PNA has two main practices for conserving its fish stocks:
- limiting the catch of all fishing vessels through theÂ VesselÂ DayÂ Scheme, explained in more detail under â€˜Catch & harvestâ€™
- banning the use of fish-aggregating devices by purse-seine fishers for three months a year.
PNA has several agreements thatÂ help members manage tuna stocks in their waters.
Palau Arrangement for the operation of the Purse Seine Vessel Day SchemeÂ setsÂ theÂ rulesÂ forÂ fishingÂ inÂ theÂ EEZsÂ ofÂ theÂ PNAÂ states.Â All purse-seine vessels wanting to fish in the EEZs must be licensed under the scheme. A Longline Vessel Day Scheme operates in the same way.
TheÂ PNAÂ membersÂ meetÂ everyÂ yearÂ toÂ setÂ limitsÂ onÂ theÂ totalÂ amountÂ ofÂ fishingÂ allowed.Â ThisÂ isÂ calculatedÂ asÂ aÂ totalÂ allowableÂ effortÂ (TAE)Â allowedÂ byÂ allÂ vesselsÂ inÂ aÂ year.Â This is the number of fishing days allowed.Â TheÂ TAEÂ isÂ usuallyÂ setÂ aÂ coupleÂ ofÂ yearsÂ ahead.The parties review the measures designed to maintain and conserve fish stocks.Â They look at the current status of fish stocks. They also consider other factors that help fish maintain healthy numbers, for example the measure to reduce fishÂ deaths, especially of young bigeye and yellowfin tuna.
They also take into account other scientific, economic and management information.