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Scientific advice for the development of oceanic fishery management measures

Objective

The objective of this component is to ensure that the fisheries management measures agreed by members of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), and its two sub-groups, are based on the best possible scientific advice. This objective supports the broader goal of a sustainable fishery for tuna and associated species, contributing to food security directly by providing for healthy tuna resources for direct consumption and indirectly through economic growth and financial security to ensure access to other food sources.

 

Strategy

The FFA member countries are the key players in the management of the region's tuna fisheries. About half of the tuna caught in the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) comes from their waters, and there is a long history of collaboration through the Agency. Although members can, and do, implement management measures in their own EEZs, cooperation among them is important for three reasons:

  • The resources are shared, and are followed by very mobile fishing fleets, so there is a need to coordinate management measures across several zones;
  • The fleets of distant-water fishing nations operate in most zones, and can 'play one country off against another' in licensing negotiations if there is no common position on management measures; and
  • The FFA countries form a strong bloc in the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and need to work together to ensure that the Commission agrees measures that are in their interests.

After many years in which tuna catches have grown steadily in equatorial waters, overfishing is now considered to be occurring on one of the four main species (bigeye tuna) and a second species (yellowfin) is fully exploited. As a result, there is an urgent need to take management action that will effectively limit fishing mortality for these species. SPC provides the scientific advice needed to analyse a range of possible measures for their effectiveness, and works with FFA advisers to determine the economic impacts on member countries. This work is conducted mainly with the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), whose zones are important for the main fisheries for tropical tunas - skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye. A number of measures were agreed for the purse seine fishery in 2008, including a limit on the number of days fished by purse-seiners, but these need to be tightened and refined to be fully effective. A new scheme to control fishing effort in the equatorial longline fishery is also needed.

The other sub-group - the Sub-committee on Southern Tuna and Billfish Fisheries (SC-STBF) - comprises countries to the south of the main tropical tuna fishing areas, which have important domestic longline fisheries targeting albacore tuna. The major concerns in this fishery are the maintenance of stocks, which will ensure the fishery remains economically viable; and the impact of a growing distant water fishery targeting swordfish. Better bio-economic modelling of albacore fisheries, to advise limits for licensing, and a comprehensive assessment of the swordfish resource are the immediate priorities for this group.

SPC has endeavoured to provide scientific advice to these groups for some years, but the volume of work now being demanded and the cost (time and money) of participating in the various meetings to present the results requires a dedicated officer to work with FFA. This will allow the scientist to establish a rapport with the representatives of member countries, and ensure that the scientific advice is relevant and delivered appropriately at the decisive meetings.


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For more information, please contact: Graham Pilling Fisheries Scientist (FFA Support), Stock Assessment


This Program is funded by the Australian aid program

Outputs related to the project1

Meetings during which the project was presented

  • WCPFC Management Objectives Workshop, Manila, Philippines, November 2012
    Link


  • WCPFC Management Objectives Workshop 2, Cairns, Australia, November 2013
    Link


News

  • A scientific perspective on current challenges for PICT domestic tuna longline fleets that are dependent on south Pacific albacore
    Link

1 The majority of outputs from this project component are designed to be delivered directly to SPC members. They are therefore confidential and cannot be displayed here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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