Report shows changes in Eastern Pacific bigeye tuna and Atlantic Ocean bigeye tuna ratings, among others

Washington, DC – 19 November 2015 – The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) released the latest version of their Status of the Stocks today. The report compiles the scientific records of the different major tuna stocks done by each of the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) into one document, serving as a one-stop resource for comprehensive tuna stock information. The Status of the Stocks Report uses a color rating system to indicate varying degrees of stock heath and ecosystem impact.

 

Since the last version released earlier this year, notable updates were made in the following sections:

  • Eastern Pacific bigeye tuna had a positive biomass rating change from orange to green.
  • Atlantic Ocean bigeye tuna had a negative biomass rating change from green to orange, and a fishing mortality rating change from yellow to orange.
  • Per the guidance of the ISSF Scientific Advisory Committee, the gear rating color for “purse seine on tuna-dolphin associations” changed from green to yellow because the last dolphin surveys in the Eastern Pacific Ocean took place in 2006. The status of these populations therefore becomes more uncertain in the absence of updated surveys.

 

Despite improvements in multiple fisheries, there is continued evidence that several stocks ­­–notably Pacific bluefin tuna, Atlantic Ocean bigeye and Western and Central Pacific bigeye continue to be overexploited. ISSF uses the ratings in this report to prioritize its advocacy efforts with the global tuna Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs), which are charged with managing these stocks.

 

About the Report

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 2013, the catch of major commercial tunas was 4.6 million tonnes. Fifty-eight percent of it was skipjack tuna, followed by yellowfin (27%), bigeye (9%) and albacore (6%). The four stocks of bluefin tuna account for only 1% of the global catch. The highest volume of catch came from the skipjack tuna stock in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, at over 1.7 million tonnes.

 

Different fishing gears are used to catch tunas. Purse seining accounts for 63% of the global tuna catch, primarily from skipjack tuna. But the relative importance of the various gears differs depending on the stock. For example, almost 100% of the catch of albacore in the Indian Ocean is from longlining and almost 90% of the skipjack catch in the western Atlantic is from pole-and-line fisheries.

 

Globally, 52% of the stocks are at a healthy level of abundance, 35% are overfished and 13% are at an intermediate level. In terms of exploitation, 52% of the stocks are experiencing a low fishing mortality rate and 13% need stronger management to end overfishing.

 

When viewed from the point of view of total catch, 87% 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-up a relatively small fraction of the total catch.  In terms of fishing mortality, 5% of the total tuna catch comes from stocks where fishing is not well managed.

 

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 Indicators provides 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. Access the newly updated ISSF stock status ratings here.


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 their website at iss-foundation.org.

 

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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 https://iss-foundation.org/, and follow ISSF on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.