2013 OPRT Business Year

Business Plan for 2013

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

1. The sign of recovery of the Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna stock was recognized by the scientific committee of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) last year, as a positive outcome of ICCAT’s implementation of rigorously reduced total allowable catch. The species has been a target of special attention from several international environmental organizations in recent years. Regarding the southern bluefin tuna as well, the trend of stock recovery has become increasingly evident.

2. In the Indian Ocean, many tuna longline fishing vessels which took countermeasures against piracy activities in Somalia moved from the Western and Central Pacific Ocean and resumed their operation. As a result, it was pointed out that imports of bigeye tuna produced in the Indian Ocean to the Japanese market increased sharply, causing declines in fish prices. There is a need for us to pay attention to the stock assessment of the species by the coming scientific committee of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) to see if the resumption of operation
may not have caused overfishing.

3. In the WCPO, where over 50% of the world’s production of tunas and skipjack takes place, no concrete progress has been observed toward the solution of the issue of overcapacity. Notably, the bigeye tuna stock is in a serious situation. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) decided to establish a
five-year program within this year in a bid to help recover the stock. It would not be an easy task to establish an effective program in the WCPFC, where the interests of member countries are tangled up. However, the establishment of a program in this year and its swift implementation, if realized, would be indicative of the fact that the WCPFC truly has management capability. Thus, this issue should be followed with a close attention as the most important issue relating to the stock management of tunas in the WCPO in this year.

4. The WCPFC’s Scientific Committee has reported that the parent biomass of the Pacific bluefin tuna–a species subject to the Commission’s stock management–has declined to around the lowest ever level, and has recommended rigorous compliance with the agreed management measures on this species. Japan, as the largest consuming country of the stock, needs to monitor the import strictly, with the aim to contribute to ensuring compliance with the management measures.

5. The issue of overcapacity has become a global issue, especially serious in the WCPO. With the aim to cope with it, OPRT has restrained the increase in the number of large-scale tuna longline fishing vessels, with cooperation of its member industries. In order to render such efforts effective, the needs have arisen to cope with the increase of large-scale purse-seine fishing vessels, the increase in the use of Fish Aggregating Devises (FADs), and the increase of small-scale longline fishing vessels — all of which are now recognized internationally as the factors causing overcapacity, notably in the WCPO.

6. With respect to the need to prevent illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing activities, Japan, as the country having the world’s largest sashimi tuna market, needs to fulfill its responsibility, by monitoring the distribution in the markets of tunas subjected to catch limit and striving to prevent distribution of catch from IUU fishing operation. Notably, tuna laundering (i.e. submissions of falsified reports on the species of the catch, fishing grounds and vessel names) by legitimate fishing vessels registered at regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), if occurred allegedly, needs to be prevented because such activities would undermine the effectiveness of stock management.

7. In order to shut out illegally-caught tunas from the market, the Catch Documentation Scheme–one that is designed to ensure traceability of the catch from the stage of production to landing markets–is being implemented for the Atlantic bluefin tuna and the southern bluefin tuna. With regard to the Atlantic bluefin tuna, ICCAT decided to electronize this scheme from this year in a bid to ensure more thoroughgoing implementation of catch management. There is a need to promote proper implementation of the electronized Catch Documentation
Scheme because the scheme will possibly be applied to all species under catch limit in the near future.

8. Several international environmental organizations are continuing their campaign to protect not only tunas but other marine species, such as seabirds, sea turtles and sharks, which are caught incidentally in tuna fishing. In face of this move, there is a need to step up publicity activities so that appropriate public understanding can be gained with regard to tuna longline fishing that promotes and implements responsible fishing–so that fishing may not be restrained in an undue manner by these movements.

9. Amid the situation where competition between tunas and other food commodities is intensifying, greater efforts than ever should be made to publicize about “the promotion of sustainable use of tunas caught under appropriate stock management,” which is one of the objectives 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, as scheduled.

Business Plan

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
(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
―Support for NRIFSF workshop regarding biological reference points for
tuna stocks
-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