25 Aug 2010

More measures expected to help curb decline in Pacific tuna stocks

3:21 pm on 25 August 2010

Scientists involved in assessing Pacific tuna stocks are likely to recommend further measures to preserve the numbers of Bigeye and Yellowfin.

Information presented to a scientific meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Tuna Commission in Tonga last week indicated that Bigeye was being overfished.

Yellow fin stocks are in a slightly better state, but catches are still declining and figures now indicate the stocks of the smaller skipjack, while still healthy, are being hit heavily by commercial fishing.

The Principal Fisheries Scientist at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Shelton Harley, says it is difficult to absolutely say what is happening with the tuna stocks:

"One of the common themes when you are talking about maximum sustainable yield and trying to estimate what it is, normally you can't estimate what it is until you have gone past it. It is one of the main dilemmas of fisheries management. There is always that concern that when you believe the stock is in a healthy state that you might just be overestimating how healthy it is."

SPC scientist, Shelton Harley.

The scientific recommendations are due to be made to a full meeting of the tuna commission in December