Governments agree on conservation plan for Eastern Pacific tuna

The 21 governments responsible for collectively managing tuna fishing in the Eastern Pacific have agreed on a multi-year conservation measure to protect the fish populations. The intention is to bring catches in line with scientific advice.

Governments will implement a 72-day fishing closure for every large-scale vessel equipped with a purse seine, or large wall of netting, in the Eastern Pacific.

In line with scientific advice for skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna populations, the closure will take place from this year until 2020.

The WWF reported in a statement that this was “an important step toward the sustainable management of this fishery”.

The new measure agreed to by Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) members will also improve the management of fish aggregating devices, known as FADs.

These floating objects are used by many fishing vessels to attract tuna in one spot rather than chasing after a school of fish.

Going forward, most commercial purse seine vessels will be limited to deploying 450 FADs at any one time. Other vessels will be allowed fewer FADs based on their size.

Pablo Guerrero, WWF LAC Fisheries Director, commented in the statement: “There is still a great deal of work to be done to address other contributors to overfishing, including excessive fleet capacity, and we still require continued scientific analysis of the impact of conservation measures on populations.

“Still, this kind of progress creates the momentum needed to move forward with the process of implementing harvest control rules and ensuring catches do not exceed limits.”

Photo credit: Tom Clifton/ CC BY-NC 2.0

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