WWF warns of low Pacific bluefin numbers
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is warning that Pacific Bluefin biomass has dropped to critical levels, requiring a serious reduction in fishing.
The WWF plans to discuss this issue with the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission next week, and in December with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. Both groups represent the totality of the regional fisheries management organizations covering the Pacific.
“Management measures in the Eastern Pacific and Western and Central Pacific are totally insufficient to preserve the Pacific Bluefin tuna stock,” said Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator for WWF’s Smart Fishing Initiative.” Only a 50 percent reduction of catches and stringent measures to protect juveniles can ensure a long-term sustainability of this fishery.”
In 2012, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission set a tuna quota for the eastern Pacific for the first time, at 5,000 metric tons (MT), but the WWF said that’s not enough, calling for regulators to cut it in half. The WWF cited data from the International Scientific Commission showing Pacific Bluefin breeding stock have dropped from their unfished levels by more than 96 percent.
The principal market for the tuna is Japan, but major countries fishing bluefin include Japan, the United States and South Korea.
Along with reducing quotas, WWF is recommending more measures to ban shark finning, as well as reducing the number of fishing boats operating in the region.
“We are hoping that the Pacific Ocean tuna fishers will see it is in their best interests to address this issue of too many boats chasing too few fish and avoid more draconian management measures such as extended closed seasons and areas,” Guerrero said.