2010 OPRT Business Year

Business Plan for 2010

[Situation surrounding Tuna Resources and Tuna Fisheries]

1. During past years, rigorous fishing limits have been introduced, one after another, for important tuna species (Atlantic bluefin, Southern bluefin and Central and Western Pacific bigeye). In order to respond to this development, the Japanese government (Fisheries Agency) scrapped a total of 87 tuna longline fishing vessels–64 distant-water tuna longline fishing vessels and 23 near-shore tuna longline fishing vessels–in March last year. Other tuna fishing countries have the compelling need to reinforce such fishing regulations.

2. The international conservationist movement that pursues protection of the tuna resources has been gaining momentum lately. The discussion on proposed listing of Atlantic bluefin tuna as endangered species at the 15th Conference of Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) at Doha, Qatar, in March this year vividly symbolizes the progress of this movement. If the stock level of tuna species now subject to catch regulations further declines or if there is no sign of stock recovery, then it is anticipated that the movement to pursue the suspension of tuna fishing by conservationist groups will be further stepped up. In order to avert such a situation, there is a need to promote the practice of responsible fisheries and strive for preservation and recovery of the tuna stock.

3. In the Indian Ocean, some tuna fishing vessels have been driven to abandon their fishing in major fishing grounds in order to avoid the attacks by Somali pirates. Thus, a situation has emerged where legitimate use of tuna fishing grounds can be hampered by political and social factors.

4. Notably, the need of control of excessive fishing capacity, which lies at the root of the resource management issues, has become a common awareness in the international community. But no international agreement has been formed regarding the introduction of concrete steps, such as freezing the number of tuna vessels. At the second Joint Meeting of the Regional Tuna Fisheries Management Organizations (tuna RFMOs), held in Spain in June last year, the issue of control of global fishing capacity was discussed. However, no consensus was realized with regard to the introduction of concrete measures in face of the claim of developing countries which insisted on the importance to respect their right to develop tuna fisheries.

5. Since its establishment, OPRT has made the efforts to restrain the number of large-scale tuna longline fishing vessels under cooperation from its members and the related governments. But there have been no concrete progress as to the control of fishing capacity of purse-seine tuna fishing vessels which account for more than 60% of the global tuna catch (data as of 2007). (The catch by tuna longline fishing vessels accounts for 14% of the total catch.) In order to assure sustainable utilization of the tuna resources, there is a need to continue our efforts to develop an international consensus with the aim to maintain the restraint of large-scale tuna longline fishing vessels as well as control the capacity of the world’s tuna purse-seine fishing vessels, and especially to aim at realizing control of the catch of immature tunas.

6. The awareness of the international community on the need to eliminate IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing has been further heightened. But as seen in the case of bluefin tuna farming in the Mediterranean, IUU fishing practice by legitimate fishing vessels registered in RMFOs has become an issue. We need to cope with this issue from a new perspective. We have been receiving reports on IUU fishing practices by legitimate fishing vessels with the apparent aim to evade resource management measures through tuna laundering (such as falsified reports on caught species and fishing grounds) and the use of small-scale fishing vessels categorized outside the scope of management. Amid this situation, OPRT needs to promote our efforts toward elimination of IUU tuna fishing by blocking imports of tunas caught by IUU vessels to Japan, the largest sashimi tuna market in the world, through collection of relevant data, analysis of data on imported tunas and reinforcement of DNA inspection.

7. OPRT has been encouraging its members to practice and promote measures for reduction of by-catch of marine species (such as marine turtle, seabirds and sharks) in tuna fishing based on the recognition that such effort is one of the requirements for responsible fishing. The 10th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) will be held in Nagoya, Japan, in October this year. There is a possibility that the issue of by-catch of marine species will be one of focal issues on the agenda at the meeting. We need to continue our efforts for reduction of by-catch of marine species during our fishing operations through effective use of circle hooks for protection of marine turtles and Tori Pole for protection of seabirds. Further, there is a need to widely publicize the efforts of OPRT members who are strictly practicing responsible fishing under such rigorous circumstances, with their eye fixed on sustainable use of tuna resources. There is also a need to ensure continuation and sound development of tuna longline fisheries by deepening the social understanding of the rational nature of this environment-friendly fishing practice.

8. The prices of sashimi tuna persist to be stagnant in Japan, the largest sashimi tuna market in the world. Under the circumstances, there is a need to promote the use of tunas caught through practice of responsible fishing (See Art. 4 (2) of OPRT’s Article of Incorporation), by appealing to consumers the characteristics of the products by longline fisheries which aim to supply high-quality sashimi tunas.

9. 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 discussed, by seeking advice from the authorities concerned, including the review of future repayment scheme.

Business Plan

In considering the above-stated situation, OPRT will undertake the following projects in fiscal 2010:
(1) Promotion of responsible tuna fisheries
(i)Monitoring of the state of tuna resources and the trend of stock management by RMFOs
(ii) Promotion of control of excessive fishing capacity
(iii)Elimination and prevention of IUU fishing -Monitoring of tunas imported into the Japanese sashimi tuna market -Implementation of DNA inspection
(iv) Management of OPRT-registered fishing vessels (v) Monitoring of the international transaction of second-hand tuna longline fishing vessels; research on the trend of exports of second-hand vessels
(vi) Reduction of by-catch -seabirds, marine turtles and sharks -catch of immature tunas by tuna purse-seine fishing vessels

(2) Promotion of the use of tunas caught under appropriate stock management
-In Japan: campaign for sashimi tunas caught by longlines in the wild
-Overseas: support for promotion of use of sashimi tunas caught by longlines in the wild

(3) Research, studies and development on management, trade and market of tuna resources
-Identification in the trend of tunas imported to the sashimi market in Japan

(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 and distribution 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 fishing vessel scrapping projects