2012 OPRT Business Year

Business Plan for 2012

[Situation surrounding Tuna Resources and Tuna Fisheries, and OPRT's tasks]

1. The issue of overcapacity, which threatens the sustainable utilization of tuna resources, made a progress toward solution as a recommendation to freeze the capacity of large-scale tuna purse seine fishing vessels of advanced fishing countries was adopted at the Third Joint Meeting of Tuna RFMOs (regional tuna fisheries management organizations) (Kobe III) held in the United States in July 2011.

2. However, there is no indication for this recommendation to produce concrete effects. Notably, in the Western and Central Pacific where the rapid increase in the number of large purse seine fishing vessels is posing problems, the freezing of the number of large scale purse seine fishing vessels–proposed jointly by Japan, the European Union, and the United States at the 8th Annual Meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Guam in March this year–was not adopted in the absence of agreement from South Pacific island countries. Furthermore, the measure to control the bycatch of immature bigeye and yellowfin tunas in purse seine operation using fish aggregating devices (FADs) was not strengthened.

3. On the other hand, the increase of fishing capacity by small-scale longline fishing vessels targeting albacore tunas emerged as a new issue, creating concerns over the future state of the albacore tuna stock which has hitherto been assessed as robust. It is partly due to the fact that the catch regulations for bigeye and yellowfin in the Western and Central Pacific is causing fishermen to move toward the catch of albacore. But this move cannot be overlooked because the increase of small-scale longline fishing vessels would lead to an increase of the catch of bigeye and yellowfin which are caught incidentally. It is reported that the number of small-scale longline fishing vessels is increasing in the Indian Ocean as well. In view of this development, it would be necessary to consider the control of capacity of small-scale longline fishing vessels, an issue which has been left unattended to date.

4. The international community continues to have high-level concerns about management of bluefin tuna stocks. Especially, with respect to bluefin tuna farming in the Atlantic, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has improved its Catch Documentation Scheme in order to ensure control of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing activities. But there is need to continue monitoring to ensure that the measure becomes truly effective. For the Pacific bluefin tuna, there is also need to monitor whether the measures to prevent the fishing effort from exceeding the recent years’ levels are being complied with.

5. The efforts to eliminate IUU fishing activities are now focused on the prevention of tuna laundering (i.e. submission of falsified reports on the species of the catch and fishing grounds and misrepresentation of vessel names) by legitimate fishing vessels registered at the RFMOs. There is need to continue our efforts to eliminate IUU fishing activities from a new perspective. Especially, as a country having the largest sashimi tuna market in the world and as a responsible tuna consuming country, Japan has the obligation to exert its utmost effort in rigorously monitoring the distribution of the tuna species subject to catch regulations and preventing distribution of tunas caught by IUU fishing vessels, with a view to ensure the effectiveness of the stock management measures implemented by the RFMOs.

6. Along with the conservation of the tuna stocks, the campaign by international environmental organizations calling for conservation of by catch marine species (i.e. seabirds, sea turtle and sharks) is continuously promoted, as witnessed in their active publicity at the meetings of the RFMOs and other international fora. There is information that a proposal to prohibit international trade in sharks might be tabled at the next Conference of Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to be held in 2013. Under the circumstance, fishermen face a greater need to strictly implement the by catch mitigation measures adopted by the RFMOs so that fisheries may not be unreasonably restricted by the pressures of environmental protection movement lacking adequate scientific ground. At the same time, there is an even greater importance to stage appropriate publicity activities to deepen societal understanding of tuna longline fisheries that are promoted in a responsible manner so that the public may not be misled by the emotional campaign by some conservation organizations.

7. With respect to the repayment program of the loans for the FOC Fishing Vessel Scrapping Project, due to be completed in fiscal 2019, there is need to take appropriate actions taking the changes in situation into consideration.

8. OPRT should complete by November next year the process to change itself into a new public interest association in order to cope with the ongoing reform on public service corporations. It is necessary to complete the transition smoothly within the assigned period.

Business Plan

Taking the above situation into consideration, OPRT will carry out the following activities, in order to promote the conservation and management of tuna resources,
which is the common property of the international community, and to contribute the sustainable development of tuna fisheries and stable supply of tunas to Japan, the largest tuna consuming country in the world.

(1) Monitoring of the state of tuna resources and the trend of stock management by RFMOs;

-Monitoring of the trend of stock management by RFMOs;
-Monitoring the environmental protection movement against tuna fisheries

(2) Promotion of effective resources management

(i) Elimination and prevention of IUU fishing activities;
-Monitoring of production of tunas imported by Japan
-Monitoring of Positive Lists of RFMOs
-Implementation of DNA inspection
(ii) Promotion of control of excessive fishing capacity;
(iii) Management of OPRT-registered fishing vessels;
(iv) Monitoring of the international transactions of second-hand tuna longline
fishing vessels; research on the trend of exports of second-hand vessels;
(v)Mitigation of bycatch.
-Measures to mitigate bycatch of seabirds, sea turtle and sharks
-Measures to reduce bycatch of immature tunas by FADs operation

(3) Promotion of the responsible tuna fisheries through sustainable use of tuna resources

-Implementation of campaign for sashimi tunas, support for events related to tunas etc.

(4) Research and studies on management, trade and market of tuna resources.

-Monitoring of the distribution of tunas imported to Japan’s sashimi market, etc.

(5) Promotion of international interchanges and cooperation among fishers for contributing conservation and management of tuna resources;

-holding of meetings for exchange of views

(6) Promotion of, and education on responsible tuna fisheries

(i) Publication of OPRT Newsletters (in Japanese and English)
(ii) Provision of information through OPRT website
(iii) Holding of OPRT seminars
(iv) Promotion to increase Supporting Members
(v) Publicity activities through cooperation with friendly organizations

(7) Management of the fund for FOC vessel scrapping project

(8) Activities for smooth transition to a new pubic interest association