A consensus on a tuna conservation plan was reached by country members at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s annual meeting on Friday, the Fisheries Agency said yesterday.
Tuna and skipjack catch in the Western and Central Pacific reached a record-high of 2.61 million tonnes last year, the agency said, adding that the total regional catch accounted for more than 60 percent of the world’s tuna and skipjack catch.
The five-day meeting in Cairns, Australia, ended on Friday with agreements for new measures to conserve bluefin tuna species, reducing the catch of young tuna (less than three years old and weighing less than 30kg) by 15 percent, the agency said.
On tropical tuna species, such as bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna and skipjack tuna, commission members agreed to a four-year plan to ban or reduce the use of fish aggregating devices (FAD) by purse seine fishing vessels for at least five months each year, the agency said.
The plan would reduce the limit on bigeye tuna longline catch by 10 percent with a goal of restoring bigeye tuna populations to a sustainable level by 2018, the agency added.
The reduction of catch would be enforced gradually, starting with a ban next year on the use of FADs for at least four months and five months by 2015 and 2016 respectively.
The plan also aims to reduce bigeye tuna longline fishing by 5 percent by 2015, and 10 percent by 2017.
The agency said the limit for Taiwan’s bigeye longline catch will be set at 11,288 tonnes for next year and 9,675 tonnes by 2017.
In order to control the catch ability of member countries, with the exception of small island nations, the total number of purse seine fishing vessels longer than 24m and bigeye tuna longline fishing vessels will be increased.
The commission has also decided to ban the catch of silky shark and will require fishing vessels to begin keeping logbooks and daily records of catch and vessel operations.