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Marine fisheries production, although stagnating over the last two decades, has been contributing 55% of global fish production. Increased awareness of fish as a unique nutrient-rich health food, as well as source of quality animal protein, has stimulated the demand for fish in general and marine fish in particular. Over the last two decades, the Asia-Pacific region witnessed a spurt in fishing effort, resulting in dwindling fish catches. Although species richness, high fecundity and varied spawning peaks helped tropical marine fisheries overcome the challenges of higher fishing pressure, high exploitation of commercially important groups has caused serious sustainability concern. Climate change will also likely have considerable impact on fisheries sustainability. For marine harvests to keep growing, mariculture must also receive increased emphasis. Accessing extensive and reliable information on these vast and dynamic oceanic resources remains a challenging task. In this endeavour, the Asian Fisheries Society’s efforts, with support of partners, through the formation of AsiaPacific-FishWatch has been exemplary in generating and disseminating a wealth of information on the region's marine resources. While this comprehensive information base has been helping in drawing up strategic management plans for responsible fisheries by different countries in this region, I sincerely wish that the AsiaPacific-FishWatch will expand its scope and horizon in coming years by associating with more stakeholders involved with the sector.

- Dr. J. K. Jena, President, Asian Fisheries Society

JKJ

19 May

Handy updates on Asia-Pacific tuna stock status

Written by  Meryl J Williams

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.

Tuna Trade 2012The 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.

Status of Stocks

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.

Assessment against MSC Standards

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.

FURTHER INFORMATION

  • AsiaPacific-FishWatch skipjack profile: SKIPJACK
  • AsiaPacific-FishWatch yellowfin tuna profile: YELLOWFIN TUNA (partially complete)

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