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Most of tuna catch comes from healthy stocks, but bluefin continues overfished

Bluefin tuna catch. (Photo Credit: Organizacion de Productores Pesqueros de Almadraba)

Monday, September 22, 2014, 00:10 (GMT + 9)
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has released the latest version of their Status of the Stocks Ratings, which compiles the scientific records of the different major tuna stocks done by each of the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) into one document.

Since the last version released in April 2014, notable updates were made in the following sections: 
  •     IATTC stock status and management;
  •     IOTC management;
  •     WCPFC stock status;
  •     Pacific-wide stock status.
The most significant changes were in ratings for Pacific bigeye stocks (EPO and WCPO). The abundance rating for those bigeye stocks changed from a green rating (stock is healthy) to orange (the stocks are overfished with regards to MSY levels).

There are 23 stocks of the major commercial tuna species worldwide – 6 albacore, 4 bigeye, 4 bluefin, 5 skipjack and 4 yellowfin stocks. The Status of the Stocks summarizes the results of the most recent scientific assessments of these stocks, as well as the current management measures adopted by the RFMOs.
In addition, this report ranks the status and management of the 23 stocks using a consistent methodology in terms of three factors: Abundance, Exploitation/Management (fishing mortality) and Environmental Impact (bycatch).

In 2012, the catch of major commercial tunas was 4.6 million tonnes. Fifty-six percent of it was skipjack tuna, followed by yellowfin (28 per cent), bigeye (10 per cent) and albacore (6 per cent). Bluefin tuna accounts for only 1 per cent of the global catch.

Globally, 52 per cent of the stocks are at a healthy level of abundance, 39 per cent are overfished and 9 per cent are at an intermediate level. In terms of exploitation, 43.5 per cent of the stocks are experiencing a low fishing mortality rate, 17.4 per cent are experiencing overfishing, and 39.1 per cent have a high fishing mortality that is being managed adequately.

When viewed from the point of view of total catch, 86 per cent of the catch comes from healthy stocks. This is due to the fact that skipjack stocks contribute more than one half of the global catch of tunas, and they are all in a healthy situation. In contrast, most bluefin stocks and 2 out of 6 albacore stocks are overfished, but combined they make a relatively small fraction of the total catch.

ISSF produces two reports annually that seek to provide clarity about where we stand – and how much more needs to be done – to ensure the long-term sustainability of tuna stocks: the Status of the Stocks provides a comprehensive analysis of tuna stocks by species, and the ISSF Analysis of Tuna Fisheries against MSC Performance Indicatorsprovides a snapshot of the health of tuna fisheries by region.

Together, these tools help to define the continuous improvement achieved, as well as the areas and issues that require more attention.


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