22 Apr 2016

Drastic measures needed to save Pacific bluefin

2:25 pm on 22 April 2016

A report on the state of bluefin tuna fisheries in the Pacific Ocean has found that, without drastic measures, there is a less than 1 percent chance of the population returning to healthy levels by 2024.

Pacific Bluefin Tuna

Pacific bluefin tuna Photo: Supplied/ aes256 CC BY 2.1 jp

The draft report, by the International Scientific Committee for tuna and tuna-life in the North Pacific Ocean, showed population numbers were lower than initially thought.

It found over-fishing was continuing, with rates as high as 294 percent above sustainable levels.

It said the decline in spawning stock appeared to have stopped, but was near an historic low.

Even if catch was cut by 20 percent, there would still only be a 3 percent chance of tuna numbers returning to healthy levels by the rebuilding deadline of 2024.

Greenpeace science adviser Cat Dorey said only 2.6 percent of the Pacific bluefin population was outside fishing areas, and the situation was dire.

She said the best chance to recover the population was to put a stop to fishing it all together.

"Closure at 10 percent is pretty late but this one's below 5 percent. It's probably the only way this stock has a chance."

The draft report will be reviewed before being discussed at the International Scientific Committee's meeting in July.