Pacific Tuna Threatened by Overfishing
The Australian who heads fishery management in the Western and Central Pacific has warned an international agreement is urgently needed to avert disaster for the tuna industry.
Professor Glenn Hurry said bluefin and bigeye tuna should no longer be harvested, as stocks were dangerously depleted.
He also warned “serious action” needed to be taken to reduce the yellowfin tuna catch.
“Yellowfin tuna’s down to about 38 per cent of its original spawning biomass,” said Professor Hurry, the outgoing executive director of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).
“Bigeye tuna’s down now to about 16 per cent.
“In any sense in a well-managed fishery you’d actually stop fishing on that and begin to rebuild the stocks.”
Professor Hurry said the situation for bluefin tuna was even more dire, with the Pacific population at “3 or 4 per cent of its original spawning biomass”.
“It’s at a level where you shouldn’t be fishing,” he said.
He said the key problem was that there are too many vessels – at least 300 – equipped with sophisticated radar, chasing the schools of tuna.
He said the optimum number of fishing boats was passed 10 years ago.
Any trans-Pacific action to stop or limit the catch would require an agreement between the 33 countries and participating territories which make up the WCPFC, which next meets in Samoa in December.
Island nation Palau joins fight against overfishing
The president of one of the WCPFC’s smallest members, Palau, has decided the time to act is now – with or without support from other nations.
“We have to take drastic steps,” president Tommy Remengesau Junior said.
“There are species of bluefin and species of bigeye tuna that are dangerously close to becoming unsustainable. Those are the hard facts that we have to look at.”