Pacific tuna stocks are at a healthy level: is sustainable fishery management responsible?

An image of tuna to illustrate sustainable fishery management
©iStock/Spondylolithesis

Pacific tuna stocks are at a healthy level in comparison to other tuna, according to the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).

Pacific tuna stocks

The CEO of PNA, Ludwig Kumoru, said: “In comparison to tuna stocks in other oceans, the Pacific tuna stocks are doing well,” he said. Bigeye, yellowfin, albacore, and skipjack are all said to be in healthy condition in this region.”

Over the past several years, PNA has maintained the same level of fishing days without increase. This has meant there has been a relatively stable catch tonnage in both the purse seine and longline industries.

Sustainable fishery management

According to the UN Environment, “Sustainable fisheries management is an integrated process that seeks to attain an optimal state that balances ecological, economic, social and cultural objectives for fisheries.

“Common on-site approaches for fisheries management include regulating the volumes of different species which can be caught and the methods that can be used to catch them, as well as designating specific geographic marine areas for protection or restricted fishing activity to encourage sustainable management of fisheries in the long term. Ongoing management, monitoring, and evaluation are also needed to ensure effective implementation.”

Ocean Conservancy added: Management must be responsive and adaptable to be successful. With climate change, fish are already shifting to cooler waters that are deeper and toward the poles. Ocean acidification will influence fish in ways that are not fully understood. Pollution and habitat destruction affect fish survival and reproduction.

Sustainable fishing of pacific tuna

Komoru explained: “[The healthy stock level of pacific tuna] is in part due to strong long-term management of the tuna fishery in PNA waters through the purse seine vessel day scheme (VDS).”

Some of the examples Kumoru gave for the long term sustainable fishery management are:

  • Fish aggregating device (FAD) closures;
  • Limits on fishing days; and
  • Other PNA conservation measures.
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