Fisheries Newsletter #159


Stocks of the four main tuna species fished in Oceania are in relatively good health. This is one of the conclusions of the studies conducted by SPC’s Ocean Fisheries Programme and presented at the 15th meeting of the Scientific Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (see Graham Pilling’s article). But things aren’t completely rosy: overall catches keep increasing; the side effects of certain techniques, including drifting FADs, need to be better controlled and limited; and the impact of fishing on non-target species, particularly on sharks and rays, remains too great and it is urgent to impose stricter rules to reverse the trend. This concern for sharks and rays is shared by many, including the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (see Andy Cornish’s article).

Unlike tuna fisheries, whose major importance for the region’s economies is undisputed, coastal fisheries often suffer from a lack of recognition. The creation of an annual Regional Fisheries Ministers Meeting, endorsed during the 50th Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu, will certainly assist in making the voice of coastal fisheries better heard at the ministerial level (see Andrew Smith’s article).

The 18th CITES Conference of Parties has decided to ‘list’ three species of tropical sea cucumbers. This will mean that in order to be allowed to export these species, countries that are parties to CITES will need to prove that their stocks are healthy, and will remain so at the current level of fishing effort. Two of these species, white teatfish and black teatfish, are high-value species present in the Pacific Islands region. George Shedrawi and colleagues believe that this binding decision provides opportunities for the better management of the beche-de-mer trade in general (see their article).

Aymeric Desurmont
Fisheries Information Specialist

Produced by the Pacific Community, Division of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems, Information Section, BP D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia.

Produced with financial assistance from the Australian Government, the European Union, France and the New Zealand Aid Programme.