Harvest strategies the ticket to success for Pacific tuna
10 December 2015
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, congratulated the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) for adopting the Australian-led harvest strategy work plan at its 12th Annual Meeting held in Bali.
Minister Ruston said the decision built on the Commission's 2014 commitment to develop and implement harvest strategies for key tuna stocks—and had benefits for Australia's domestic tuna fishers.
"Last year Australia caught 4,365 tonnes of tuna in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, worth approximately $31.2 million," Minister Ruston said.
"This is Australia's fourth most valuable fishery and is managed in accordance with WCPFC rules.
"The decision ensures that others who share these tuna stocks are managing the regional resource to the same sustainable standards so we can all continue fishing well into the future.
"Australia has had important experience in the development of harvest strategies. We have seen how successful they can be and we are ready to work with other nations to achieve the same success in the Pacific as we have seen in our domestic fisheries.
"The Western and Central Pacific Ocean is home to the largest tuna fishery in the world.
"Pacific tuna fisheries provide a critical food source for the Pacific region and are fished by nations around the world. It is crucial that these fishing nations commit to the long term, sustainable management of these key tuna stocks."
The adoption of the harvest strategy work plan is an important achievement in step with the Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries adopted by Pacific Island Leaders at the Pacific Island Forum held in Papua New Guinea in September.
Harvest strategies for key stocks will set sustainable 'target' harvest levels and describe the management actions that will help the Commission's Members achieve them.
Senator Ruston warned against complacency though.
"This is an important achievement for what I understand was, at times, a frustrating meeting, and those efforts should be celebrated," Minister Ruston said.
"However, we have hard decisions ahead of us—the main work of this Commission is still to come.
"We must continue to cooperate and work together to ensure these valuable resources are available in the long term, especially bigeye tuna, which is overfished and subject to overfishing."
Despite members failing to adopt a number of other key measures for the sustainable management of Pacific tuna, the Commission adopted a target reference point for skipjack tuna to ensure that fishing is managed at a sustainable level and agreed to improvements to the data collection process for albacore.
The Commission also agreed to extend of the compliance monitoring scheme, a critical tool in ensuring that all members of the Commission follow the rules. Australia was closely involved in the development of the original measure and worked closely with members on the recent improvements to the measure.