ISSF scientific report provides update on “status of the stocks”
Washington, DC -- September 21, 2016
The global commercial catch of tuna — a valuable, natural protein food source — reached 5 million tons in 2014, an increase from 4.6 million in 2013, according to the ISSF Tuna Stock Status Update – 2016 (Status of the World Fisheries for Tuna) report just published by the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). The report can be downloaded from the ISSF Status of the Stocks page. Tuna accounts for approximately 6% of the world’s 81.5-million-ton marine catch.
The skipjack tuna species accounted for 57% of the tuna catch, followed by yellowfin (27%), bigeye (9%), albacore (6%) and bluefin (1%). Purse seine vessels harvested 64% of the tuna, followed by longline methods (12%), pole-and-line (9%), gillnets (4%) and miscellaneous fishing gear types (11%).
The ISSF report indicates that 77% of the total volume of tuna catch worldwide in 2014 was from stocks at a “healthy level of abundance.” Previous Tuna Stock Status Update reports showed 78% of tuna catch from healthy stocks in 2014 (from a preliminary report in February 2016), 87% in 2013, 86% in 2012, and 94% in 2011.
From a perspective of tuna stocks, 44% of tuna stocks globally are at a healthy level of abundance, and 39% are overfished. Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) bigeye tuna, for example, continues to be slightly overfished and was downgraded from a Green (healthy abundance) rating to a Yellow (intermediate) rating since the previous February 2016 report. Other overfished stocks were Western Pacific Ocean (WPO) bigeye, Atlantic Ocean (AO) bigeye, and Indian Ocean (IO) yellowfin.
Tuna Stock Status Update also reports on tuna management measures recently enacted by tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs). Significant newly adopted measures covered in the report include the adoption by the IOTC (Indian Ocean Tuna Commission) of harvest control rules (HCRs) for skipjack tuna, as well as a plan for rebuilding the overfished IO yellowfin stock. The IATTC (Inter-American-Tropical-Tuna-Commission, in the EPO) also adopted an HCR for tropical tuna species.
“While 77% of the world’s tuna catch comes from healthy stocks, it is important to remember that there are four stocks — representing 13% of the catch — that are being overfished,” explains Dr. Victor Restrepo, ISSF Vice President, Science. “Even though there are management measures in place for them, these measures are proving to be insufficient to end overfishing — and a greater effort is required.”
About the Tuna Stock Status Update Report
ISSF’s Tuna Stock Status Update report, often referred to as the “Status of the Stocks” report, is updated and published several times a year. It is intended to provide scientists, governments, NGOs, fishers, tuna processors, retail companies, and others with a benchmark for assessing tuna stock health over time. It does not advocate any seafood purchasing decisions.
The ISSF report compiles the most recent scientific evaluations from five tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) into one comprehensive resource, organized by ocean and tuna species. It assesses the status and management of 23 tuna stocks using a consistent methodology that considers Abundance, Exploitation/Management (fishing mortality) and Environmental Impact (bycatch).
The report also includes an appendix on bycatch comprising 1.) a review of species impact by gear type using the same color-coded system and 2.) a summary of the major mitigation and monitoring measures adopted by the various tuna RFMOs. The report is reviewed by the ISSF Scientific Advisory Committee before publication.
The ISSF site also features two graphics that track tuna stock status:
- By stock and by catch, with abundance and fishing mortality ratings for “healthy,” “intermediate,” or “needs improvement”
- And the other depicting tuna stock changes by year since 2011, based on catch
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/.