2011 OPRT Business Year

Business Plan for 2011

[Situation surrounding Tuna Resources and Tuna Fisheries]

1. Rigorous catch regulations have been imposed on important tuna species — Atlantic bluefin, southern bluefin and Central and Western Pacific bigeye — and there have been no signs for those regulatory measures to be alleviated.

2. It has been pointed out that the decline in those tuna resources are caused by overcapacity and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities.

3. At the Second Joint Meeting of Tuna RFMOs (regional tuna management organizations) (Kobe2) held last year, the issue of overcapacity was identified as an issue to be addressed by the RMFOs urgently, but no international agreement has been developed as to introduction of concrete measures.
OPRT members are abiding by the measures to restrain the increase of the number of large-scale longline fishing vessels. However, the increase of fishing capacity by purse-seine tuna fishing vessels, which account for over 60% of tuna fishing vessels around the world, has not been halted. As the Japanese government alerted attention to the issue at the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and Kobe2 last year, large-scale purse-seine fishing vessels have been increasing at a conspicuous pace in the WCPFC areas in recent years. Notably, bycatch of immature tunas by purse-seine operations using the Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) has been causing serious direct impact on the tuna resources.

4. With respect to the efforts of the international community toward elimination of IUU fishing activities, concrete progress has been observed, as seen in the case of implementation of the Catch Documentation Scheme for Atlantic bluefin and southern bluefin tunas and introduction of related legislations in the United States and the European Union (EU). However, there have been reportedly moves among IUU fishing vessels to evade the stock management measures. These moves include “tuna laundering” by legitimate fishing vessels registered at RFMOs (i.e. submission of falsified reports on the species of the catch and fishing grounds and misrepresentation of vessel names) as well as the use of small-sized vessels that do not come under fisheries management. In this respect, there is a need to continue our efforts toward elimination of IUU fisheries. 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 tunas, including verification of the attachment of designated tags on fish bodies with respect to the tunas marketed in the country, and to prevent the inflow of the tunas caught by IUU fishing vessels.

5. The campaign by international environmental organizations that calls for conservation of bycatch of marine species (i.e. seabirds, sea turtle and sharks), along with the conservation of tuna resources, has become the trend of the times that cannot be ignored. Tuna fishermen are called upon to strictly implement the bycatch reduction measures adopted by the RFMOs so that their operations may not be unreasonably restricted by the protests of extremist conservation groups. On the other hand, in order to restrain unreasonable conservation campaigns, the importance of publicity activities is mounting in order to deepen the society’s understanding of the reasonable nature of longline tuna fishing that is friendly to the marine environment.

6. In the Indian Ocean, there persists the situation in which tuna fishing vessels are forced to abandon their major fishing grounds in an attempt to avoid the attacks by Somali pirates. Furthermore, there is a new concern that political instability in the Middle East, including Libya and Bahrain, could hamper the stable supply of fuel. In this way, social and political disturbances are casting the shadow of uncertainty over maintaining and ensuring stable operations of tuna fishing.

7. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated the eastern part of Japan on March 11 this year induced accidents at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co., causing a serious confusion in Japan’s economic activities. Consumers still tend to restrain their spending. Sales of high-grade seafood commodities, such as tuna and sea bream, have been stagnant due to the consumers’ restraint on holding parties and other celebratory gatherings, and the cancellation of various events. The negative rumors about seafood in connection with the accident of the nuclear power plant are causing decrease in seafood consumption. This trend could impact the sashimi tuna market in Japan as well. Under the circumstance, there is a need to step up efforts to promote sustainable use of tunas in order to ensure the healthy presence of the sashimi tuna market. Efforts include to provide information of safety of marine products based on scientific information with guidance of Fisheries Agency of Japan so that occurrence of damage caused by unreasonable rumor be prevented.

8. Difficulty is arising in repayment of the loans for “FOC Fishing Vessel Scrapping Project” as scheduled because of the reduction of the number of fishing vessels in Japan and Taiwan. Appropriate measures should be sought, by seeking advice from the authorities concerned, including the review of future repayment scheme.

Business Plan

With a view to ensure the promotion of sustainable use of tunas and to contribute to the development of tuna fisheries complying with international and social responsibility—which are OPRT’s two stated missions, OPRT will carry out the following projects in the coming year, with the above-mentioned situation in mind.

(1) Promotion of responsible tuna fisheries
(i) Monitoring of the state of tuna resources and the trend of stock management by RFMOs;
(ii) Promotion of control of excessive fishing capacity;
(iii) Elimination and prevention of IUU fishing activities;
-Monitoring of Positive Lists of RFMOs
-Survey of market distribution of tunas which are subject to regulations
-Implementation of DNA inspection
(iv) Management of OPRT-registered fishing vessels;
(v) Monitoring of the international transactions of second-hand tuna longline fishing vessels; research on the trend of exports of second-hand vessels;
(vi) Reduction of bycatch.
-Measures to reduce bycatch of seabirds, sea turtle and sharks
(vii) Cooperation with World Tuna Purse Seine Organization (WTPO) in purse seine matters.

(2) Promotion of the use of tunas caught under appropriate stock management
-In Japan: Campaign for sashimi tunas caught by longlines
Support for events related to tunas
-Overseas: Support for promotion of the use of sashimi tunas caught by longlines
-Assistance to restoration from the damage of the East Japan
Earthquake/Tsunami; implementation of measures against the spread of negative rumors about seafood

(3) Research and studies on management, trade and market of tuna resources.
-Monitoring of the trend of tunas imported to Japan’s sashimi market,

(4) Promotion of international interchanges and cooperation among fishers regarding management and utilization of tuna resources;
-holding of meetings for exchange of views

(5) 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, etc.
(iv) Recruitment of new Supporting Members
(v) Publicity activities through cooperation with friendly organizations

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