US proposal would contribute for Pacific bluefin tuna to remain severely deplete
2016-10-14 17:38:09   copyfrom:    hits:

Pacific bluefin tuna (Photo: Monterey Bay Aquarium)WORLDWIDEFriday, October 14, 2016,02:20 (GMT + 9)Environmental or
 

Pacific bluefin tuna. (Photo: Monterey Bay Aquarium)

 

WORLDWIDE
Friday, October 14, 2016, 02:20 (GMT + 9)

 

Environmental organisation The Pew Charitable Trust considers the United States proposal to address the trouble facing Pacific bluefin tuna to the members of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) meeting in La Jolla, California, is unsatisfactory.

The NGO deems that this proposal “would do nothing to stem overfishing of this species that has declined to 2.6 per cent of its unfished levels.”

As far as Pew is concerned, it represents a weaker approach than the one the US offered recently to the body that regulates fisheries in the western and central Pacific Ocean.

The NGO stressed that commercial fishing on several age classes continues at rates nearly three times higher than what is considered sustainable and warns that if the IATTC adopted the US proposal, continued overfishing would likely ensure that the population remained seriously threatened for decades to come.

In these environmentalists’ view, the IATTC and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) are jointly responsible for international management of the commercial Pacific bluefin fishery.

“Although they have mandates to make science-based management decisions, members of both regional fisheries management organizations have failed to protect the species by reducing catches to sustainable levels,” claimed Pew’s global tuna conservation director Amanda Nickson.

The director indicated that this session has been called because members of the IATTC could not agree on a recovery plan when they last met in July. Unfortunately, she adds, there are no signs yet that this meeting will produce the breakthrough urgently needed. Members are likely to agree to continue the status quo, which could jeopardize the survival of this species.

Part of the failure, Nickson states, is the fact that the US proposal submitted to the IATTC does not include the management objectives and solid rebuilding targets that the nation had advocated a month earlier at a meeting of the WCPFC Northern Committee in Fukuoka, Japan.

In her opinion, the text endorses the inadequate measures agreed to by the Northern Committee and once again, the IATTC is set to be a follower rather than an equal partner with WCPFC in management of Pacific bluefin.

Pew clarifies that the IATTC meeting comes in the wake of the recent announcement that the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) has determined that Pacific bluefin may be eligible for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

In response to a petition filed in July to list the species as endangered or threatened, NOAA Fisheries determined that there is “substantial scientific information indicating the petitioned action may be warranted.”

Over the next year, the agency will evaluate and review the science, and make a final determination on the endangered status of the fish in late 2017.

With little action expected at this month’s meeting, Pew’s call for a two-year commercial fishing moratorium on Pacific bluefin takes on greater urgency. A temporary fishery closure would immediately end overfishing, give the fish a chance to reproduce, and allow time for managers to agree on a longer-term recovery plan that would return the population to healthy levels.

Pew insists that fisheries managers must reach agreement on an effective, science-based rebuilding plan for Pacific bluefin without delay. Otherwise, a moratorium, along with a global trade ban, may be the only actions that can save the species.

 

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