2009 OPRT Business Year

Business Plan for 2009

[Situation surrounding Tuna Resources and Tuna Fisheries and OPRT's Basic Policy]

1. The tuna resources in the world are assessed to be harvested to around the limit of sustainable catch (MSY). Notably, the stock level of southern bluefin tuna and Atlantic bluefin tuna continue to be at a low level, and rigorous catch control is implemented to help their recovery. In order to ensure sustainable use of tuna resources, regional tuna fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) are now taking the course toward controling excessive catch and introducing measures to restrict fishing.

2. Regarding the control of excessive catch, OPRT has been implementing efforts to restrain the number of large-scale longline fishing vessels around the world, with cooperation from its members and the governments of the members. As a result, the overall catch by longline fishing vessels has been restrained and decreasing steadily in recent years. (The overall catch by longliners in 2007 was 587,000 tons, which was 14% of the world’s total tuna catch of 4.23 million tons.) On the other hand, the catch of tunas by purse-seine fishing vessels in the world continues to be at a high level of 2.6 million tons (62% of the world’s total tuna catch in 2007). Especially, although the need to control the massive catch of small-size bigeye and yellowfin tunas has become a common awareness in the international society (as was clearly stated at the Joint Meeting of the Regional Tuna Fisheries Management Organizations, held in Kobe in January 2007), implementation of effective measures to achieve that goal has not been ensured to date. At long last, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) adopted measures to reduce the catch by purse-seine fishing vessels starting this year, but such measures will certainly end up meaningless unless the implementation of the adopted measures is ensured. In this respect, there is a need to watch closely the progress of implementation of those measures. Furthermore, the regulation on bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific will not become effective unless similar regulatory measures are implemented also in the eastern Pacific where the bigeye tunas in the western and central Pacific migrate. With the aim to ensure sustainable use of tuna resources, there is a need to consolidate the forces of OPRT members to restrain the fishing capacity by purse-seine fishing in the world, notably, to realize the control of the catch of small-size tunas.

3. Catch of bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean is exceeding the total allowable catch established for the purpose of promoting resource recovery. Given this situation, a serious question is now being posed as to the management capability of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT). For this reason, the campaign by conservation organizations calling for total ban of fishing is gaining momentum.
The Conference of Parties of the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is scheduled to be held next year, and there is reportedly a move to include eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna in CITES Appendix. Amid these circumstances, it is truly hoped that ICCAT will regain its credibility by ensuring compliance with its regulation in this fishing season in order to preserve its authority as a specialized organization for conservation and management of tuna resources. Notably, Japan, which is importing bulk of bluefin tuna farmed in the Mediterranean, is requested to implement the bluefin tuna catch documentation system rigorously and contribute positively to the recovery of ICCAT’s credibility.

4. Concern of the international society toward elimination of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing activities has been rising at an accelerated pace. Steps taken by countries to abolish IUU fishing have become more specified. In January this year, the United States certified and disclosed the name of six countries that were allegedly involved in IUU fishing in accordance with the provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act. The United States provides that, if the country in question fails to improve the situation, it would take measures to prohibit the importation of seafood from such country and ban the port entry of the fishing vessels registered in that country. In a similar vein, the European Union (EU) made it clear that it would fully implement its regulations against IUU fishing from January 2010 with a view to eliminate IUU fishing activities. Taiwan also introduced in December last year a system intended to confirm the actual state of the fishing vessels operating in the form of foreign investment and ensure compliance with the international resource management measures.
In spite of these international efforts, though, there are reportedly moves to engage in IUU fishing by circumventing resource management measures, through such means as tuna laundering and the use of small-size fishing vessels that are outside the management scheme. Under these circumstances, OPRT faces the need to further step up its efforts toward eliminating IUU tuna fishing through, among others, collection of relevant information, analysis of trade data and reinforcement of DNA inspection.

5. The reduction of incidental catch of marine living species (i.e. sea turtle, seabirds, and sharks) is one of the requirements for responsible fisheries. OPRT has been striving to promote the implementation of the measures through the efforts of individual members. There is a need to keep up with our effort to reduce incidental catch in fishing through effective means such as the use of circle hooks and Tori pole in order to check the movement to establish unreasonable “marine protected areas” which would hinder sustainable use of marine resources including tunas. Furthermore, in order to bloc the progress of the unreasonable anti-longlining campaign, there is a need to continue our efforts to publicize the endeavors of OPRT members who practice responsible tuna fishing, such as implementation of measures to reduce incidental catch, and to deepen the social understanding regarding the legitimacy of longline fishery.

6. Supply of tunas to Japan, the largest sashimi tuna market in the world, has been decreasing in recent years. In 2007, sashimi supply to Japan fell below 400,000 tons (381,000 tons). It appears that supply further declined to around 340,000 tons (provisional figure) in 2008. It is not right to judge immediately that such a decline in supply means the shrinkage in demand for sashimi tuna in Japan. Rather, it is necessary to direct our attention to the present situation in which the prices of sashimi remain stagnant in spite of decreased supply. Under the circumstances, there is a need to try to promote utilization of tunas caught under appropriate resource management (cf. Art. 4 (2) of OPRT Articles of Incorporation), including the effort to renew our appeal to consumers regarding the characteristics of the products from longline fishing which is intended to supply high-quality sashimi tuna on a stable basis.
Furthermore, in order to ensure sustainability of responsible longline fishing in a long-term range, there is a rising need to mitigate concentration of sashimi tuna in the Japanese market alone but to promote globalization of the sashimi tuna market.

7. Difficulty occurs in repayment of the loans for “FOC Fishing Vessel Scrapping Project” as scheduled because of reduction of the number of fishing vessels in Japan and Taiwan carried out in 2008 with the aim to recover tuna resources. It is necessary to cope with this situation appropriately by seeking advice from the authorities concerned, including review of the future projects.

8. An application for OPRT membership by longline fishing organization is increasing. We will carry out proper examination of the applicant and seek advice of the authorities and organizations concerned regarding membership qualifications of the applicant and deal with the application properly in order to further promote responsible tuna fisheries such as prevention and elimination of IUU fishing activities as well as control of fishing capacity.

Business Plan

In considering the above situation, OPRT will undertake the following projects in fiscal 2009:
1. Management and coordination of fishing efforts for ensuring appropriate management of tuna resources
(1) Monitoring of the state of tuna resources and the trend of stock management by RMFOs
(2) Management of registration of the OPRT fishing vessel list including dealing with application of a new registration
(3) Monitoring of the international transaction of second hand tuna longline fishing vessel
(4) Prevention and elimination of IUU fishing – Monitoring of data on imported tunas – Implementation of DNA inspection – Survey of the status of exported used vessels
(5) Promotion of the restraint of excessive fishing capacity (6) Promotion of reduction
of by-catch (a) seabirds, marine turtle, sharks (b) juvenile tunas

2. Promotion of responsible tuna fishing through promotion of the use of tunas caught under appropriate resource management
(1) Campaign for super-frozen wild sashimi tunas in Japan
(2) Support in the promotion of super-frozen wild sashimi tunas overseas

3. Studies, research and development regarding management, trade and market of tuna resources
(1) Surveys on the state of increasing trade of processed tuna products, etc.
(2) Analysis of data on tuna imported

4. Promotion of international interchanges and cooperation among fishers regarding appropriate management and use of tuna resources
(1) Holding of meetings for exchange of views
(2) Opening of an OPRT-exclusive website and provision of information through that forum

5. Promotion of the objectives of OPRT through publicity activities
(1) Publication and distribution of newsletters (in Japanese and English)
(2) Provision of information through OPRT website
(3) OPRT seminars, etc.
(4) Recruitment of new Supporting Members
(5) Publicity activities through cooperation with friendly organizations

6. Management of the fund for FOC fishing vessel scrapping project