The biennial INFOFISH World Tuna Trade Conference and Exhibition in Bangkok (21-23 May 2014) is a good time to check the most up-to-date information on the status of tuna stocks, including those of the Western and Central Pacific and Indian oceans.
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation makes this check easier for us. It commissions its Scientific Advisory Committee to overview analyses of the status of status of stocks in all regional fisheries management bodies, and other experts to check stocks against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards.
For the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO), skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore tuna, the status of the stocks are unchanged since the last major update in 2012. Although none of the stocks are currently overfished, concern is expressed for bycatch in certain types of fishing (longline and certain sections of the purse seine fisheries) and the lack of management controls in the equatorial area of the yellowfin fishery and in the bigeye fishery.
In the Indian Ocean, skipack and bigeye status did not change since the last assessments; the yellowfin stock needs reassessment because of recent higher fishing levels; and for albacore the abundance has changed from yellow to green despite that fishing mortality went from yellow to orange. For all stocks, bycatch in purse seine, longline and the large and growing gillnet fisheries is of concern.
The assessments against MSC standards (by experienced assessors) covered the sustainable fish stocks principle (P1) and the effective management principle (P3), but did not do the minimising environmental impact principle (P2). Of the 8 Western and Central Pacific and Indian Ocean stocks assessed, 3 received a passing score on P1, namely WCPO skipjack and Indian Ocean skipjack and yellowfin. Among the regional management organisations, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission was the most highly rated globally, just ahead of Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission.