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Protection of albacore urged

Thursday 5 November 2015 | Published in Regional


PACIFIC – Pacific island countries have called on major global fishing countries to help them protect one of the world’s few remaining uncontrolled tuna species stocks.

A meeting last month of Pacific islands nations and Australia called for a 40 per cent cut to the catch of southern albacore tuna.

Compared to other tuna species, southern albacore tuna was thought to be bullet-proof, but scientists from the region’s peak science organisation found its numbers were down to 40 per cent of pre-fishing levels.

The 11, mostly Pacific, nations which own the Southern Albacore Fishery – who come together under a treaty known as the Tokelau Arrangement – have now asked countries in Europe, Asia and North America to set a stock target of 45 per cent of unfished stocks.

“That target is going to require a cut in the order of 40 per cent of the catch in the fishery in order to achieve it,” said Wez Norris, acting director-general of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency.

“For a group of developing states who are reliant on these fisheries and the revenue they produce, that is a very confronting prospect.”

In the past, the major fishing nations have been unwilling to reduce catches, even in the face of scientific advice.

Norris said all nations would have to cut catches if the fishery was to be economically viable.

“No one is going to be immune from the management measures that are going to be taken for the fishery,” Norris said.

Australia and the Pacific nations will put their case when the WCPFC meets in Bali in the first week of December.