Pacific News Minute: International Panel Considers Emergency Steps With Stocks of Bluefin Tuna Down

Aug 30, 2016

Credit Dennis Tang / Flickr

After a report earlier this summer found that stocks of bluefin tuna are down to less than three percent of historic levels, a meeting in Japan this week is considering emergency measures, including a two year moratorium.  Details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Previous assessments on Pacific bluefin were dire, but not this dire.  A month ago, the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species put the  population at just 2.6% of historic levels. And if nothing is done, the scientists put the chances that bluefin stocks will recover, at less than 1%.

The most important international group involved is the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which meets in December in Fiji. In advance, it's Northern Subcommittee is meeting this week in Fukuoka, Japan to consider emergency steps.  The dark red, fatty meat of the bluefin is treasured in Japan, which both catches and consumes the vast majority of the fish.  According to reports, Japan will propose limits if the catch is low again this year, but so far, there's no specific number on that limit.  The United States will propose a long-term goal to restore stocks by 2030, but so far, no details on how.  The Pew Charitable Trusts says a two year moratorium on commercial fishing could begin to restore stocks within three to five years.

International panels have deadlocked on tuna management in years past; small island nations blame the big players: Japan, China, The US, South Korea, Taiwan and Europe.  Pew's Amanda Nickson said, "If government's fail to take immediate action, a population collapse isn't just possible - it's inevitable."