WCPFC chair Jung-re Riley Kim and outgoing executive director Feleti Penitala Teo. 22120241
The tuna industry’s major players are calling for a more science-based approach to improve decision-making on management and conservation for skipjack tuna fisheries.
One of the messages
inside the Global Tuna Alliance’s fortune cookies that were handed out at the
Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting in Da Nang,
Vietnam this week read: “The road to success is paved by having a harvest
strategy for skipjack.”
the other side of the paper fortune is the Global Tuna Alliance’s tagline for
this year’s meeting – “Keep stocks in the green” – a reference to the healthy
fish stocks the region boasts.
WCPFC is the governing body that looks after the tuna stocks in the Western and
Central Pacific Ocean which includes Cook Islands waters.
The Cook Islands is also one of 26 member countries that are
part of the Commission and has delegates at the conference.
Global Tuna Alliance is a group of independent seafood companies interested in
to its executive director, Tom Pickerell, 32 per cent of the world’s tuna
passes through the Global Tuna Alliance’s members and they’re “absolutely
unanimous” in wanting harvest strategies implemented for all the stocks in the
is our primary ask,” Pickerell says, “it’s something that we are fully aligned
with the NGO community on, so you have the NGOs, and you have the market
calling for this thing.”
management procedure is part of a harvest strategy and is a pre-agreed framework for making fisheries decisions,
akin to making rules before a sports game is played.
The idea is to minimise political negotiations and leave the
decision-making to science which will set the level of fishing. It’s a major
focal point for the WCPFC meeting this year with multiple stakeholders
expressing their desire to have it adopted for skipjack.
says a management procedure makes overfishing stocks unlikely.
has the boundaries and it avoids the political horse-trading that you see in
the room today,” he says on the fourth day of the meeting.
just a cornerstone of fisheries management. It’s an absolute no brainer.”
says harvest strategies also means security of supply for companies.
is a big, big seller and these companies want to continue selling it. One way
to do that is to have really well managed stocks, and by having really well
managed stocks, you don’t get that fluctuation.
year, you may get loads (of tuna) dumped on the market and the price goes down,
if there’s less because the stock gets overfished, then the price goes up. So
they want stability as do the fishermen as do the communities.”
New England Seafood
International brings in seafood from all over the world and processes it in the
United Kingdom and sends it to large UK retailers.
of sustainability at New England Seafood International, Ruth Hoban says the
company’s key interest is in yellowfin tuna and wants a harvest strategy for
is at the core of New England Seafood and although the stocks are green, which
is brilliant, we do see the risk that without proper management that may not be
the case for the future to come and we want to continue to buy yellowfin tuna,
buy albacore tuna, and then sell it into retailers for many, many years,” Hoban
believe that harvest strategies are the key way to do that moving forward.”
of the Ministry of Marine Resources and leading the Cook Islands delegation in
Da Nang, Pamela Maru says she is wanting to see a management procedure adopted
says she also wants revisions to the harvest strategy measure to meet requirements for fleets and
fisheries certified under the marine stewardship council.
Fish and seafood with the
blue Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) means it’s certified as fishing
sustainably according to MSC.
Maru’s comment follows the Council’s threat
that 33 certified tuna fisheries in the region may lose certification if the
Commission fails to adopt a management measure for skipjack.
WCPFC chair Jung-re Riley Kim says good
progress was being made and was hopeful a management procedure for skipjack
would be adopted at this year’s meeting.
are aiming at adopting it at the end of the week,” says Jung-re before the meeting concluded last
we adopt a management procedure for skipjack, that will be implemented but how
they will be implemented depends on the data and the Commission members.”
MMR’s Maru says strengthening the
management of South Pacific albacore is also priority for the Cook Islands, and
the southern longline fishery more broadly.
“Whilst this stock is biologically
healthy, the economic viability of the longline albacore fishery requires
attention. This is of particularly importance for the domestic fleets (such as
the small scale longliners based out of Avatiu) of Pacific Islands nations.
“Under discussion is a multiyear workplan
that focuses on progress towards the development of harvest strategies for South
Pacific albacore, with elements to progress determination of management
objectives, a target reference point, development of management procedures, and
the development of an allocation framework in 2023. These are key work areas
the Cook Islands are wanting to see as an outcome of WCPFC19. This in turn
should assist with work to improve the current conservation and management
Teo says in the past the Commission has had a reactionary management approach.
a tuna stock reaches a critical status the Commission reacts to put in place
measures that addresses that critical situation, which is always difficult
because countries have their own commercial interest,” Teo says.
very difficult to negotiate measures in response to a crisis. What the
management strategy approach brings to the fore is that the Commission will
negotiate rules in advance of a stock reaching a crisis.
is an entirely new approach to fisheries management and one that will hopefully
take the politics out of fisheries management.”
says the “game plan” was to eventually have a harvest strategy for all highly
commercialised tuna stock, not just skipjack.
The director general of the
Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen
optimistic that a skipjack management procedure would be approved by the end of
According to Tupou-Roosen,
a management procedure is an important first step in the harvest strategy
However, there has been
criticism from environmental NGOs that the FFA does not want to be fully
committed to the management procedure.
Glen Holmes from Pew
Charitable Trusts previously told Cook Islands News that the FFA’s position was
that they wanted to “tick a box” but “don’t want to change anything”.
But, Tupou-Roosen says the
FFA remains committed to a harvest strategy approach.
just see that we need to take certain steps as part of that,” she says.
development of a harvest strategy takes a number of years. It’s not something
we can do overnight and we recognise that and there are steps towards its full
development, but, there are a lot of unknowns and we don’t want to dive into
this space, put in a permanent measure, and then find out later that it'’
harder to amend.
approach a few members are taking is putting it in as an interim measure and as
we implement it, take into account the lessons learned and continue to refine
towards developing a fully-fledged harvest strategy.”
A decision on if the WCPFC
will be adopted was expected to be made last night on the final day of the
Caleb Fotheringham in Da Nang, Vietnam.
Fotheringham’s trip was made possible by The Ocean Foundation.