Tuna Commission backs 11th hour move to save Bluefin tuna

Samoa’s Associate Minister of Fisheries Lenata’i Tamapua and CEO Fonoiava Seali’itu Sesega who are part of Samoa’s delegation to the Commission meeting in progress in Apia

BY Lagi Keresoma

APIA: TUESDAY 02 DECEMBER 2014: Consensus has been reached on new measures for the conservation of Pacific Bluefin tuna, a commercially-valuable species that has dropped to critically low levels.

The agreement was reached at the 11th session of the Western & Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) today in Apia.

Scientists advising the Commission say Pacific Bluefin tuna numbers are down to just 4% of their original levels.

Only a tiny breeding stock now approaching the end of its lifecycle is holding that population together, according to Alfred Cook, the Worldwide Fund for Nature’s Western and Central Pacific Tuna Programme Manager.

The new conservation rules agreed today require bluefin tuna fleets to keep catches below the 2002-2004 annual average levels.

Catches of bluefin tuna under 30kg each are to be reduced to 50% of the 2002-2004.

If the catch limit is exceeded, the over-catch will be deducted from the the following year’s catch limit.

Bluefin is a North Pacific species not found in the waters of Pacific Island nations.

The proposal initiated by Japan was tabled this morning and is expected to be officially announced, with other decisions of the Commission, at the end of the week.