World Tuna Day: Contribution of tuna science to Pacific region


In 2016 the United Nations General Assembly voted to make 2 May World Tuna Day. The Parties to the Nauru Agreement had advocated since 2011 to establish this internationally recognised day to celebrate the importance of tuna to communities worldwide.

The importance of tuna resources for Pacific communities cannot be understated. The Pacific Ocean is 48 per cent of the world’s ocean, with tuna fisheries being a key regional resource.

In 2014, approximately 2.8 million tonnes of the main target tuna species (yellowfin, skipjack, bigeye and South Pacific albacore) were caught in the Western Central Pacific Ocean, with 60 per cent of this being within Pacific Island countries and territories’ Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), making tuna the most significant export for the region.

Employment of Pacific Islanders in the tuna fisheries sector continues to grow steadily, increasing from approximately 13,500 jobs in 2011 to over 22,000 in 2015. Tuna is also a key source of government finance, with revenue received by Pacific Island countries and territories from foreign tuna fishing fleets being around USD 450 million in 2015.

For 70 years the Pacific Community (SPC) has been providing the Pacific Islands region with essential scientific and technical services. The Division of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (FAME) has provided scientific expertise to support fisheries management for over 60 years.

As well as serving our Pacific members, SPC is also the official provider of scientific services to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

SPC’s Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division Director, Moses Amos reflected on the extent to which tuna science was a core part of SPC’s service to the region, and the importance of fisheries data to inform management decisions across the region.

“Tuna is critical for Pacific communities, providing jobs, food security and economic benefits. As the scientific provider for the region, every day is World Tuna Day for SPC. Just this past week we have hosted two significant events to support improved science and information essential to the management of the region’s valuable tuna resources,” Mr Amos said.

From 24-28 April the 11th Tuna Data Workshop (TDW-11) was held in Noumea, New Caledonia. The workshop brought together 41 participants from 21 countries and territories.

TDW is held annually for one week in April to coincide with the deadline for the provision of scientific data to the WCPFC.

During the workshop, SPC staff along with colleagues from FFA and WCPFC, assist Pacific members to prepare their data in order to comply with WCPFC reporting obligations. This year SPC also welcomed WCPFC members Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam to TDW.

The data provided to the WCPFC are also essential to the regional stock assessments conducted by SPC which are fundamental to the conservation and management of tuna resources in the western and central Pacific Ocean.

Ahead of this years’ regional stock assessments, SPC also hosted the ‘Pre-Assessment Workshop’ in Noumea. This is an annual workshop with international experts in tuna stock assessment.

The Pre-Assessment Workshop plays a critical role in the scientific advice SPC provides to the WCPFC Scientific Committee by providing technical feedback on new modelling approaches and data inputs SPC proposes to utilise in upcoming stock assessments.

This year’s Pre-Assessment Workshop was attended by 15 experts representing institutions from Australia, China, EU (Spain), Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan, USA, along with regional partners FFA, PNA Office and WCPFC, and will inform SPC stock assessments for Bigeye Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna and Southwest Pacific swordfish.

Media contacts:
Jean-Noel Royer, SPC Communications Officer, [email protected] or + 687 26 01 71