Asia Minute: The Story Behind the Numbers: Pacific Bluefin Tuna

May 25, 2018

Pacific Bluefin Tuna at auction.
Credit Dennis Tang / Flickr

There is news out this week about the amount of Pacific Bluefin Tuna in the ocean. Researchers say this variety of tuna has been overfished for many years. But the latest numbers have drawn different interpretations from various groups, depending on their agendas. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

There are more Pacific Bluefin tuna in the ocean than there used to be.

But how you look at that news depends on your position.

Japan’s Jiji Press headlined the story saying “Pacific Bluefin Tuna Stocks Estimated to Have Risen 10%.” The Pew Charitable Trust, talking about the very same figures, says “Pacific Bluefin Tuna Stock Remains Highly Depleted, New Science Shows.”

Both headlines are technically correct — according to work done by a group with the unwieldy but descriptive name of the “International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-Like Species in the North Pacific Ocean.”

In a year to year comparison, the group says the amount of Pacific Bluefin tuna in the ocean rose from roughly 19,000 tons to 21,000 tons. That follows an international effort to increase the stocks of the fish — an effort that is still in its early stages.

Pew warns that the numbers show that “any premature and unfounded increase in catch will hinder recent progress.”

Pacific Bluefin Tuna
Credit Wikipedia

In a previous note, Pew said Japan and Mexico have already reached their quota limits for the year for Pacific Bluefin tuna.

Jiji Press reports that given the slight recovery in the fishing stocks, “Japan plans to propose an expansion of catch quotas at an international meeting to be held in Fukuoka in September.”