FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Charlie Patterson, +1 202-680-8132, [email protected]

Washington, D.C. – 1 December 2016 – Reducing catches of bigeye tuna and using non-entangling FADs to protect sharks are among the changes advocated for Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) fisheries by the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) in a position statement submitted for the 13th Regular Session Meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Nadi, Fiji, on December 5-9.

The WCPFC, which oversees tuna stocks in the WCPO, is one of five tuna Regional Fishing Management Organizations (RFMOs). “As stewards of the world’s largest tuna fishing grounds, WCPFC members carry a significant proportion of responsibility for the sustainable management of global tuna,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “The region has shown an active willingness to improve the way its fisheries are managed and protected. However, there is still progress to be made, including for the region’s bigeye stock.”

Although bigeye catches in 2015 were 16% lower than in 2014, short-term projections reviewed by the 12th Regular Session of the WCPFC Scientific Committee (SC12) show that bigeye remains overfished. To end overfishing, fishing mortality needs to be reduced by about 36%. Skipjack tuna also is at risk of overfishing unless the Target Reference Point (TRP) is maintained and effective capacity management curbs potential increases in fishing effort.

In all ocean regions, ISSF has recommended adoption and execution of harvest control strategies, which guide fisheries management decisions. For WCPFC, ISSF is advocating adhering to the 2015 harvest strategy work plan, which requires the RFMO to determine a rebuilding time frame for bigeye, management objectives for albacore tuna, and acceptable levels of risk so that Management Strategy Evaluations (MSE) and other work can move forward in 2017.

The ISSF WCPFC position statement and companion blog post outline many other issues for WCPFC members to discuss and act on at next week’s meeting – including requiring the use of non-entangling FAD designs; collecting data on support vessels; adopting e-monitoring standards; raising the observer coverage requirement for longline fleets; improving transparency in the WCPFC compliance monitoring process; and more.


About the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is a global coalition of scientists, the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (WWF)—the world’s leading conservation organization—promoting science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting ecosystem health. To learn more, visit iss-foundation.org.