2015 OPRT Business Year

OPRT Business Plan for Fiscal 2015

The current state of tuna resources and tuna fisheries and the issues facing OPRT

1. Rigorous catch regulation measures so far implemented by regional tuna fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) to  recover the tuna stocks are now producing fruitful results. Regarding the Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)  in  last November agreed to increase the total allowable catch (TAC) for 2015-2017 based on its Scientific Committee’s stock assessment and recommendations in September last year. The Commission also agreed to increase the TAC for the Western Atlantic bluefin tuna for 2015-2016.

Furthermore, with respect to the southern bluefin tuna, the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) confirmed and agreed to further expand the TAC for 2015-2017 at its annual meeting last year–a decision that continued from 2014.  In this connection, there remains the need to introduce stereoscopic cameras in the farming cages at an early time—as  committed by the Australian side a number of years ago–with the aim to improve the information on  the number and size of southern bluefin tuna supplied for farming.
In the years ahead, it is necessary to continue monitoring the RFMOs’ activities so that the implementation of the stock recovery plans is further promoted and their expected management goals are achieved.

2.However, in the western and central Pacific that is the largest fishing ground of tuna and tuna-like species, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) failed to attain an agreement at its annual meeting in December last year on the stock management measures for bigeye tuna, which would serve as a prerequisite for strengthened management measures for that species in 2015 and subsequent years. As a result, the Commission decided to continue the regulatory measures that had been implemented until 2014. At the WCPFC Scientific Committee meeting in last August prior to the Commission’s annual meeting, the Committee revised its assessment of bigeye stock from the category of “overfishing is occurring but not overfished” to a more rigorous “overfishing is occurring and it is overfished.” Further, the Scientific Committee noted that the catch of bigeye by purse-seine fishing exceeded for the first time the catch by longline fishing in 2013.

While management measures, such as reduction of the number of fishing vessels and restriction on the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs), were not realized, the fishing capacity of medium- and large-scale purse-seine fishing boats continued to expand and the activities by small- and medium-scale longline vessels increased, further aggravating the concerns over deterioration of the tuna stock. Under these circumstances, there is a need to watch closely the course of events so that effective management measures leading to the recovery of bigeye stock in the Convention area is implemented.

3. With respect to the Pacific bluefin tuna for which there is a risk for the spawning biomass to decline to historically low levels, new management measures were adopted at the WCPFC annual meeting in December 2014 to halve the catch of juvenile fish (less than 30kg) from the 2002-2004 level. Japan, the largest consumer of that stock, needs to contribute to the implementation of rigorous monitoring of import volume and other data in order to ensure the compliance with management measures.

4. On the issue of excessive fishing capacity, OPRT has, from the time of its establishment, cooperated with its members in the efforts to restrain the increase of large-scale longline fishing vessels. We are aware of the need to continue this effort to realize the sustainable utilization of tuna resources. At the same time, it is necessary for the RFMOs to realize effective measures, such as the reduction of the fishing capacity of large-scale purse-seine fishing vessels, reinforcement of the control over FAD use, as well as monitoring of, and introduction of management measures on, the operations by medium- and small- scale longline vessels.

5. In order to fulfill its obligation as the country having the largest tuna largest sashimi tuna market in the world, Japan should monitor rigorously the import of tunas subject to regulations and prevent the inflow the catch from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels. Especially, the so-called “tuna laundering” (i.e. falsified reports on the catch species and fishing ground and misrepresentation of the vessel name) should be eliminated as it certainly diminish the effectiveness of the conservation and management measures. Tuna laundering should be stopped by means of collection of a set of information, including the vessel’s proper identification information (IMO Number), analyses of imported tuna data, inspection of DNA data, and so forth.

6. The Catch Documentation Scheme, designed to ensure traceability from production to landing of the catch, is now being implemented for the Atlantic bluefin tuna and the southern bluefin tuna with the aim to keep out the tunas caught by IUU fishing vessels from the international markets. At ICCAT, electronized Catch Documentation scheme will be initiated in order to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness. There is a need to ensure steady implementation of this scheme.

7. Several international environmental organizations are steadfastly continuing their campaigns to call for protection of tuna and marine species caught incidentally in tuna fisheries (sea birds, sea turtle and sharks). Under these circumstances, it is necessary to continue our publicity so that tuna longline fisheries may not be unduly restricted and appropriate public understanding can be gained on tuna longline fishing that promotes responsible fisheries.

8. Amid the present situation where consumers tend to reduce fish consumption and the competition between seafood and other food commodities is intensifying, greater efforts than ever should be made to publicize the “promotion of sustainable utilization of tunas caught under appropriate stock management scheme”–which is one of the stated missions of OPRT. Such efforts should include expanding opportunities to appeal to consumers about the characteristics of sashimi tuna.

9. Efforts should be made to carry out the repayment program under the “FOC Fishing Vessel Scrapping Project,” due to be completed in fiscal 2019, through smooth collection of project liabilities borne by Japanese vessels, Taiwanese vessels and legitimatized vessels of Vanuatu and the Seychelles.

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 developments 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 scheme
(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 incidental take
-Measures to mitigate incidental take 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, and stepping-up of, the events related to the tunas campaign

(4) Research and studies on management, trade and market of tuna resources

-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 and information
(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