GLOBAL - Members of the Northern Committee (NC) of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) have again failed to agree an urgently needed recovery plan to save Pacific bluefin tuna.
WWF believes that due to the lack of progress and the repeated inaction of the responsible bodies the Pacific bluefin stock will continue to teeter on the edge of collapse.
Dr Aiko Yamauchi, the leader of the Oceans and Seafood Group, WWF Japan said: "We call for a full suspension of commercial fishing of this species until a Pacific-wide rebuilding and management plan has been agreed. This is the only way to end overfishing, and to provide hope for a future recovery of the stock. We encourage all members here to consider this suspension of fishing, and we look forward to a further discussion on Pacific bluefin tuna at December’s full WCPFC meeting."
Even with an updated stock assessment that showed that the stock is depleted to 2.6 per cent compared to its unfished level, nothing has been done to end the high levels of overfishing, or find agreement on a plan to rebuild the population. Several aspects of the agreed NC workplan, as well as the clear responsibilities found in the Harvest Strategy, have not been implemented.
The Northern Committee had promised that this year they were going to tackle the problem. Reference points and harvest control rules were going to be agreed to, the catch documentation scheme to monitor the Pacific bluefin tuna catch was to get ready to be implemented, an emergency rule was going to be put in place to trigger real action when low recruitment was detected, and the joint meeting of the NC and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) was going to make measureable progress on a Pacific-wide rebuilding plan.
WWF believes that many commitments were made by the NC, seemingly in order to distract from the fact that little was done to advance conservation of this severely depleted stock.
WWF urges the member states to act and stop overfishing of the Pacific bluefin tuna stock and agree the necessary conservation measures this year.
TheFishSite News Desk