Report outlines global tuna stocks


Chris Dove, contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
July 26, 2009

A new report by the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) details the status of the world’s global tuna stocks. The report covers four of the five species supporting commercial tuna fishing — bigeye, yellowfin, skipjack and albacore.

The report examines bycatch and mitigation issues and reviews the effectiveness of regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) in managing tuna fisheries.

According to the report, the Indian Ocean bigeye tuna catch peaked in 1999 at about 150,000 metric tons but has been declining since then to about 136,000 metric tons in 2007, with Spain and France accounting for most of the surface catch and China representing most of the longline catch.

The report also found that Indian Ocean yellowfin is “from a precautionary point of view ... considered to be in an overfished state and overfishing of the stock is currently taking place.”

The report concurred with a 2003 report that “overfishing of the skipjack stock was not occurring nor was the stock in an overfished state.”

As for northern and southern stocks of Pacific albacore, “Currently the biomass and the spawning biomass are well above average level,” said the report. “In other words, the stock is not in an overfished state but fishing mortality is high, and consideration should be given to reducing it.”

Regarding measures to reduce bycatch and discards, the RFMO’s Working Party on Ecosystems and Bycatch of sharks, seabirds and turtles highlighted several research programs conducted in Spain, France and Japan to develop technology to lower bycatch rates.

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