OPRT Business Plan for Fiscal 2014
The current state of tuna resources and tuna fisheries and the issues facing OPRT
1. The Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) recognized that the Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna stock is on a recovery trend thanks to rigorous catch regulations enforced by ICCAT. It is expected that increase of catch quota will be discussed at ICCAT annual meeting this year based on the SCRS’s stock assessment.Regarding the southern bluefin tuna stock, the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) decided to expand the overall catch again for 2014, as the fishing regulations it had implemented to date proved effective. The Commission also agreed to further expand the catch quota for 2015-2017 as well, pending the confirmation based on the Scientific Committee’s advice at the CCSBT’s annual meeting this year. It should be noted that an early introduction of stereoscopic video camera–as promised by Australia–has become crucial in order to improve the precision of quantitative data on the southern bluefin tuna provided for farming.
2. In the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, which is the largest fishing ground for tunas including skipjack, excessive catch of bigeye continued as no effective stock management measures had been implemented. However, at the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in December 2013, an agreement was reached to adopt a strengthened conservation and management measure (CMM 2013-01), for tropical tunas, inter alia bigeye. Although this CMM envisions the period from 2014 to 2017, it is required to settle some issues within this year in order to realize an effectiveness of this framework. These issues include the need for CCMs other than SIDS (Small Island Developing States) to develop a framework to reduce the fishing capacity of large-scale purse-seine vessels to the level of the end of 2012 as well as the need to adopt an arrangement not to transfer a disproportionate burden on SIDS. As the success of these efforts would determine the WCPFC’s capability to manage the tuna stocks, it is necessary to emphatically focus our attention to the course of events taking place this year as well as the situation of implementation of the provisions of the CMM2013-01 for this year.
3. It should also be noted that capacity of small- and medium-scale longline fishing vessels targeting southern albacore has been increasing rapidly and deepening concern over the future of this stock.
There is a need to direct close attention to the discussion on the stock status and necessary fishing regulations and it is also taken into account such an expansion of the fishing activities of small- and medium-scale long liners could lead to an increase in the catch of bigeye and yellowfin.
4. Regarding the Pacific bluefin tuna with an increased risk of spawning stock biomass falling below the historical lowest level in coming year, an agreement was reached at the WCPFC’s annual meeting last December to newly introduce regulatory measures to reduce the catch of juvenile fish. Further, it was decided to develop a stock recovery plan this year based on the new assessment by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC). There is a need for Japan, the largest consuming country of this stock, to monitor its imports strictly in order to contribute to ensuring the compliance with the fishing regulations.
5. With respect to the issue of overcapacity, OPRT has been coping with it with cooperation from members since the time of its foundation to restrain the increase in the number of large-scale longline fishing vessels and will continue such effort to ensure sustainable utilization of related stocks. In order to render such efforts effective, relevant regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) should realize the following as soon as possible reduction of fishing capacity of purse seine vessels,, control of the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), and strengthened monitoring and management of the activities of small-scale longline fishing vessels.
6. In order to fulfill its obligation as the largest sashimi tuna consuming country, Japan should monitor strictly the imported tunas subject to fishing regulations, and strive to prevent importation of the catch from illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing vessels. In particular, there is a need to eliminate tuna laundering (i.e. false statement of the caught fish, fishing ground where the fish was caught, and vessel name) as such actions do diminish the effectiveness of the stock management measures.
7. The Catch Documentation Scheme, designed to ensure traceability from production to landing of the catch, is now being implemented for the Atlantic bluefin tuna and the southern bluefin tuna with the aim to keep out the tunas caught by IUU fishing vessels from the international markets. Work is underway at ICCAT to electronize the scheme in order to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness. There is a need to expend utmost effort to make progress of this work.
8. Several international environmental organizations are steadfastly continuing their campaign to call for protection of tuna resources and other marine species, such as sea birds, sea turtle and sharks. Under these circumstances, it is necessary to continue our publicity efforts so that appropriate public understanding can be gained on tuna longline fishing that promotes responsible fisheries.
9. Amid the present situation where consumers tend to reduce fish consumption and the competition between seafood and other food commodities is intensifying, greater efforts than ever should be made to publicize about the “promotion of sustainable utilization of tunas caught under appropriate stock management scheme”–which is one of the stated missions of OPRT.
10. Efforts should be made to carry out the repayment program under the “FOC Fishing Vessel Scrapping Project,” due to be completed in fiscal 2019.
Taking the above situation into consideration, OPRT will carry out the following activities, in order to contribute to the sustainable development of tuna fisheries and stable supply of tunas to the markets through promotion of the measures to reinforce the conservation and management of tuna resources,
(1) Monitoring of the state of tuna resources and the trend of international stock management by RFMOs;－Monitoring of the trend of stock management by RFMOs;
－Monitoring the excessive environmental 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
－Experiment for demonstrating electoronized catch documentation scheme
(ii) Promotion of control of 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 status of exported second-hand vessels;
(v)Mitigation of bycatch.
－Measures to mitigate bycatch of seabirds, sea turtle and sharks
(3) Promotion of the responsible tuna fisheries through promotion of sustainable use of tuna resources
－Implementation of campaign for sashimi tunas, focusing October 10th as Tuna Day.
－Support for events related to the tunas campaign
(4) Research and studies on management, trade and market of tuna resources－Monitoring of the distribution of tunas imported to Japan’s sashimi market
(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) Renewal of OPRT pamphlet
(ii) Publication of OPRT Newsletters (in Japanese and English)
(iii) Provision of information through OPRT website
(iv) Holding of OPRT seminars
(v) Promotion to increase Supporting Members
(vi) Promotion of activities through cooperation with friendly organizations
(7) Management of the fund for FOC vessel scrapping project