2008 OPRT Business Plan

Business Plan for 2008

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

(1) The tuna resources around the world are either fully utilized or used excessively, except for yellowfin tuna, and are assessed to be at low stock levels. Rigid catch restrictions are enforced for the stock recovery of some species such as southern bluefin tuna and Atlantic bluefin tuna. With the aim to ensure sustainable utilization of the resources, the regional tuna fisheries management organizations (RMFOs) of the world are strengthening their management measures to restrict catch .

(2) However, the capabilities of these RMFOs to manage the tuna resources are now put to question. In other words, specific issues have been pointed out, including the failure in management of eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna resources and the delay in the decision on eastern Pacific tuna resource management. The stakeholders’ awareness on the need to cope with excessive fishing capacity, which lies at the root of the issues, is being increasingly deepened. Nevertheless, actual implementation of the measures has been delayed as discussion became confused.

(3) On the other hand, popularity for sashimi tuna seems to be rising mainly in the United States and Europe, and, along with increasing consumption of canned tuna, the international demand for tuna resources is expected to expand further in the years ahead. For this reason, there has been higher willingness among developing countries to make entry into tuna fisheries, and it is anticipated that fishing capacity will increase further in the future. Under the present circumstances where no international mechanism to restrain the increase of fishing capacity has been established, except for the framework of agreement among OPRT members, there exists a concern that excessive fishing will advance further. Therefore, it has become an urgent need to establish as expeditiously as possible an effective management system that can restrain tuna fishing capacity on a global scale.

(4) Regarding the impact of by-catch of juvenile tunas by purse-seine fisheries on the tuna resources, the Joint Meeting of the Regional Tuna Fisheries Management Organizations, held in Kobe in January 2007, explicitly recognized it as an issue to be solved. But no specific measures have so far been introduced. An increasing number of stakeholders are calling for an early implementation of measures for this issue because excessive catch of juvenile tunas constitutes one of the causes of the declining fishing rates in longline operations. But the reduction in, and restraint of, by-catch of juvenile tunas may be indispensable to ensure sustainability of tuna fishing, not only for longliners alone but also for purse-seiners. There is a need for all stakeholders related to tuna fishing, whether they are longliners or purse-seiners, to cooperate and strive for expeditious solution of this issue.

(5) There have been international moves to hinder sustainable use of tuna resources. Specifically, international environmental groups are stepping up their campaigns, calling for actions such as
(i) an Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna fishing moratorium,
(ii) boycott of Mediterranean bluefin tuna, and
(iii) establishment of closed areas on the high seas in the central and western Pacific. There is a need to closely watch the course of these movements, and take appropriate actions, depending on the development of the situation, so that the sustainable use of tuna resources may not be thwarted on unreasonable grounds.

(6) On the other hand, the operators of large-scale tuna longline fishing vessels, registered in OPRT, who supply tunas to the sashimi market, are faced with an extremely difficult situation for maintaining and continuing their operation due to such factors as soaring fuel costs and slumping fish prices, and some have been compelled to pull out from the business. This situation generated a real concern about the possible collapse of the repayment plan for “FOC fishing vessel scrapping program fund.”

(7) In order to cope with the above situation properly and to contribute to “the promotion of sustainable use of tuna resources” and “the development of tuna fishing fulfilling the international and social responsibility,” which are OPRT’s founding objectives, our organization will continue its activities positively through coordination and collaboration among its members, while making efforts for cost saving.

Business Plan

Based on the above basic policy, OPRT will undertake the following projects in fiscal 2008:
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
(3) Prevention and elimination of IUU fishing – Monitoring of data on imported tunas – Implementation of DNA inspection – Survey of the status of exported used vessels – Management of the fund for FOC fishing vessel scrapping projects
(4) Promotion of the restraint of excessive fishing capacity
(5) 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 imports

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
  (a) Publication and distribution of newsletters (in Japanese and English)
  (b) Provision of information through OPRT website
  (c) OPRT seminars, etc.
  (d) Recruitment of new Supporting Members
  (e) Publicity activities through cooperation with friendly organizations
  (f) Promotion of effective use of OPRT tuna label