production is increasing as the number of large purse seining vessels operating
in the Pacific Ocean continues to grow, creating international concern about
the future sustainability of tuna stocks across the Pacific region which
accounts for about 70% of global tuna output.
demand for raw tuna in various countries is driving the increase in tuna output
as consumption of tuna sashimi and Japanese cuisine gain in popularity around
the world; at the same time demand for canned tuna (skipjack) is rising more
quickly as part of a general trend to healthier eating.
the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), an estimated 305
purse seiners are fishing in the western and central Pacific Ocean this year, which is 10 vessels more than the 295 purse
seiners that operated in the region last year and 10% more than the 287 purse
seiners operating in 2012.
As a result
of about 80 additional large purse seiners having started to fish in the
western and central Pacific since 2004, the total Pacific purse seining tuna
catch has grown substantially during the past decade, reaching 1.90 million
metric tons (mt) in 2013, an increase of about one third compared with the 1.39
million mt caught in 2004.
The growth in
purse seining has occurred alongside a reduction in longline tuna fishing.
Longline vessels operating in the western and central Pacific have decreased
during the past decade, decreasing about 15% to around 2,966 vessels in 2013,
according to WCPFC, compared with 3,526 vessels that operating in 2010 and some
30% less than the 4,288 longline vessels that were operating in 2004.
In terms of
tuna species, skipjack tuna fishing has grown the most in the Pacific Ocean during the past decade. The total Pacific skipjack catch
rose by 50% to reach 1.49 million mt in 2013, according to WCPFC, up from 1
million mt in 2004.
tuna production, however, has slowed across the Pacific Ocean during the same time frame, falling to about 270,000 mt in
2013. Last year’s total is a decrease of 31% from the record Pacific Ocean yellowfin catch of 390,000 mt recorded in 2012 and 12.5%
below the 316,000 mt landed a decade earlier in 2004.
production of tuna is going up, especially for skipjack tuna. Europe, the
United States and developing countries are eating canned tuna as it is a source
of reasonably priced protein and does not require a cold store to keep,”
commented Daishiro Nayahata, managing director of the Organisation for the
Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries (OPRT).
frozen tuna prices in Japan are mostly stable but bluefin tuna prices keep
going up and down. Long term prices are down from the bubble economy period
that ended in 1990; then the Lehman shock happened in 2008 and now the market
is recovering after the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake disaster.”
WCPFC, the total tuna catch in Western and Central Pacific Ocean region in 2013 was 2.62 million mt. Although the total catch
was down slightly from 2.65 million mt the previous year, the current catch is
16% higher than the 2.21 million mt of tuna caught in the western and central
Pacific region in 2004.
“Bigeye is an
important target species for large scale longliner tuna vessels with super-low
temperature freezers that are registered under OPRT as larger size bigeye are
caught by these due to the nature of their fishing gear,” Nayahata explained.
many years “overfishing” of bigeye has been continuing chiefly because of the
increased juvenile bigeye catch by purse seiners using FADs (Fish Aggregating
Devices) in the western and central Pacific Ocean,
according to stock assessments conducted by WCPFC’s Scientific Committee. OPRT
members are seriously concerned about the sustainability of this stock and the
future of their fisheries.”
and Management Measures (CMMs) that WCPFC has adopted relating to the
conservation of tropical tuna including bigeye stocks have reduced longliner
tuna fleets catch quotas detailed under the CMMs. However, overfishing has
still continued, Nayahata observed, with OPRT member longliner fleets suffering
the reduced efficiency of their fishing operations as a result.
seine vessels operating in the tropical region (20N-20S), the CMMs have
included regulations such as a four-month prohibition on FAD sets to reduce fishing
mortality,” Nayahata said. “However, the continuous increase in the number of
purse seine vessels operating in this region has brought about an increased
number of FAD sets that has led to increased catching of bigeye. This situation
is contrary to the recommendations of the WCPFC Scientific Committee and must be
Due to OPRT
members’ concern about the depletion of bigeye tuna stocks in the western and
central Pacific Ocean, the organisation recently wrote to WCPFC executive director,
Professor Glenn Hurry, on 4 July 2014, calling for the effective implementation
of CMM 2013-01 conservation proposals that WCPFC adopted in December 2013 to
assist in the recovery of bigeye stocks in the western and central Pacific
Ocean, in particular.
overfishing of bigeye is due mainly to the increased catch of juveniles in FAD
sets by purse seine fishing vessels. To reduce the number of bigeye juveniles
caught and to increase the overall effectiveness of the bigeye overfishing
reduction programme, OPRT members are keen to see WCPFC implement agreed
measures to reduce fishing mortality in accordance with recommendations from
the Scientific Committee as soon as possible.
In its letter
to WCPFC, OPRT noted that implementation of measures aimed at reducing the use
of FAD sets by purse seine fishing vessels in 2015 and subsequent years are
conditional on progress at WCPFC’s Regular Session this year, and are due to be
successfully implemented under the CMM 2013-01 conservation proposals that
WCPFC has adopted for the period 2014-2017.
provisions of CMM 2013-01 that OPRT members wish to see implemented effectively
is development of schemes to jointly reduce the capacity of large scale purse
seine vessels in the western and central Pacific to the level that existed at
the end of 31 December 2012, and to reduce overfishing.
also have urged the WCPFC commission to conduct annual reviews from 2014 as
stipulated in the CMM to ensure the provisions of CMM 2013-01 have their
and in regard to small scale longliners, OPRT members have noted that
comprehensive monitoring should be carried out and enhanced management methods
should be considered.
in December 2000, OPRT was formed by the Japanese government and the tuna
industry to establish a sustainable global longline tuna fishing industry, to
stamp out illegal unregulated and unreported (IUU) longline fishing, and prevent
overfishing capacity of large scale longline tuna fisheries targeting major
sashimi tuna species including Atlantic bluefin, southern bluefin and bigeye
associations and fishing boat registration agencies in 16 countries have
registered 989 large scale longline fishing vessels with OPRT as of the end of
March 2014, representing more than 90% of the world’s large scale tuna
longliners equipped with super-low temperature freezers.
represents all stakeholders in tuna fisheries producing sashimi grade products,
Mr Nayahata noted, including major tuna fishing operators all over the world as
well as traders, distributors, and consumers in Japan.
Pacific bluefin caught by coastal fisheries in Japanese waters, longline caught
Atlantic bluefin and southern bluefin are used for the finest sashimi – red
meat ‘Akami’ and high fat content meat called ‘Toro’, followed by bigeye tuna,
yellowfin and albacore.
tropical region (20N-20S) of the western and central Pacific, tuna targeted by
large scale purse seine vessels for canning are skipjack and yellowfin, though
some purse seine-caught yellowfin is processed and supplied to the sashimi
conservation and management of tuna stocks, Nayahata commented: “The good news
is that the catch quota of the southern bluefin is increasing and the status of
the eastern Atlantic stock is improving. But the bad news is the expanded
activities by small scale longline fishermen and the fact that bigeye stock in
the western and central Pacific has been indicated as overfished for the first
time by the WCPFC Scientific Committee at its latest meeting in August.
longliners are going to the western and central Pacific Ocean – these are not
illegal fishermen as they have licenses; they catch mostly bigeye, yellowfin and
member countries, however, have shown a considerable increase in the number of
smaller longline vessels operating in the western and central Pacific in the
past few years.
the number of small scale longline fishing vessels with low temperature
freezers operating in the Pacific is increasing and many send their catch to
Japan in refrigerated containers.”
bulk of small scale longline vessels ran their fishing operations supplying ice
chilled fresh tuna. More recently many have installed low temperature freezers
which are affordable to install nowadays and are suitable for storing sashimi
these small scale longliner problems should be resolved in the tuna-related
regional fishery management frameworks in an adequate and timely manner,” Nayahata
reducing the large scale purse seine vessels tuna fishing capacity in the
western and central Pacific remains an important target for OPRT.
of bigeye in the western and central Pacific Ocean is of serious concern and in
time, maybe in every ocean, as it seems the number of FAD sets by purse seiners
is above the level that allow the sustainable use of bigeye stocks. Purse
seiners are using FADS to capture skipjack but inevitably they catch juvenile bigeye,”
“We are keen
to see a reduction in purse seining fishing capacity; it’s too much and not
commensurate with the present level of fish stocks. If the Pacific purse seine
fleet size never stops increasing in time they must face some problems.”
Japan is the
world’s largest consumer of sashimi tuna with about half of the nation’s tuna
intake being in the form of sashimi and sushi.
government Fisheries Agency estimates that around 300,000-400,000 mt of tuna
sashimi is consumed in Japan each year. Other major markets include the United
States where an estimated 30,000-50,000 mt of sashimi is consumed each year and
South Korea where about 15,000-20,000 mt of tuna sashimi is eaten annually.
skipjack, Japan consumed around 702,000 mt of tuna in 2012, according to the
the largest species consumed, accounting for 312,000 mt or 44% of all tuna
supplied to Japan in 2012. Bigeye amounted to 142,000 mt or 20% of all tuna
supplies to Japan followed by yellowfin tuna 125,000 mt or 17% of tuna
accounted for a further 90,000 mt of total tuna supplies to Japan followed by bluefin
tuna 21,000 mt and Southern bluefin tuna 12,000 mt.
fishing vessels caught 481,000 mt or 68% of the total 702,000 mt amount of tuna
supplied to Japan in 2012. The remaining 222,000 mt of tuna supplied to the
Japanese market in 2012 was imported from over 10 other countries.
Taiwan was an
important source in 2012 supplying around 64,000 mt, followed by Indonesia
which supplied 37,000 mt. Among other countries South Korea supplied 17,000 mt
of tuna while China and the Philippines supplied 13,000 mt each, and Vanuatu
skipjack is the main species caught by the world’s tuna fishing fleet,
accounting for 2.6 million mt or 58% of the global tuna catch in 2011,
according to FAO figures.
the second largest tuna species caught worldwide, amounting to 1.22 million mt
or 27% of the total tuna catch in 2012, followed by bigeye totalling 384,000 mt
or 8.5% of the world’s total tuna catch.
the world’s largest producer of tuna, producing some 591,000 mt of tuna in
2011, accounting for 13% of total global tuna production amounting to 4.49
million mt that year, according to FAO.
Japan is the
world’s second largest tuna producer, catching 463,000 mt of the total global
tuna catch in 2011, followed by the Philippines with a tuna catch totalling
important tuna producer nations include Taiwan with 316,000 mt catch in 2011,
followed by Spain with 285,000 mt, Equador with a total 246,000 mt catch, South
Korea with 244,000 mt and the United States with 227,000 mt.of tuna.
FAO, Papua New Guinea’s tuna catch was 165,000 mt in 2011, while Mexico caught
116,000 mt, China 116,000 mt, Sri Lanka 105,000 mt and the Maldives 93,000 mt.