Study weighs pole-and-line tuna’s baitfish usage
Pole-and-line fisheries need 25,000 metric tons of baitfish to catch tuna annually, according to a new International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) report. The figure is the first global estimate of baitfish used for tuna caught used the pole-and-line method.
The report, “Ensuring Sustainability of Livebait Fish,” identifies several environmental and social issues associated with fishing for this bait, but in particular the use of juveniles and the complex interactions between live baitfish fisheries and local communities and tourism industries.
The study calls for more research into these impacts and argues that improving management in bait fisheries through the introduction of management plans and stock assessments could resolve most of these issues and ensure that pole-and-line remains the most responsible and sustainable way to fish for tuna.
“Sustainable live bait fisheries are in everyone’s interests,” said Andrew Bassford, IPNLF co-founder. “As a priority, we’re developing best practice guidelines for baitfish management plans and providing skill sharing, training and capacity building to improve community and coastal states’ ability to manage baitfish fisheries on a long-term sustainable and equitable basis.”
The foundation expects that the demand for pole-and-line tuna will continue to grow and will mainly come from the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Nordic countries and increasingly Australia, New Zealand, Japan and North America, as retailers switch their seafood procurement to more sustainable alternatives.