Published 7 December 2009

Flaws in protection measures hurt Bigeye tuna stocks

Cambridge, UK, 7th December 2009—Failure by the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to manage fish stocks properly is contributing to the reduction of Bigeye Tuna and other fish.

Measures to protect Bigeye Tuna stocks are failing  © Jürgen Freund / WWF

WWF and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, said today that the regional fisheries management organization must address these flaws when they meet this week in Tahiti.

“TRAFFIC and WWF are particularly concerned that the efforts made by WCPFC to reduce fishing effort to try and protect Bigeye tuna stocks in the Pacific have failed according to the Commission’s Scientific Committee,” said Glenn Sant, TRAFFIC’s Global Marine Programme Leader. 

“Tuna Commissions need to listen to the advice of their Scientific Committees. 

“It is of paramount importance that effective steps are taken to reduce the mortality of Bigeye Tuna immediately by 43 percent,” Sant said. 

Global stocks of several tuna species are heavily overfished, with populations of Atlantic and Southern Bluefin tuna fished down to dangerously low levels. The Southern Bluefin tuna spawning stock is as low as 3 percent of its original size. More recently, concerns have been expressed over stocks of Yellow-fin tuna in the Indian Ocean.

“We live in desperate times as far as the health of our global tuna stocks are concerned,” said Sant. 

In 2007, TRAFFIC and WWF published With an eye to the future: Addressing failures in the global management of Bigeye Tuna, a report showing Bigeye Tuna stocks around the world required better management. 

“Last year, WCPFC tried to address overfishing of Bigeye Tuna in the Pacific, but their measures haven’t worked. Now there is no time to lose if Bigeye Tuna is not to join its cousins on the brink of fished-out over-exploitation.” 

Conservation of shark species caught during tuna fishing activities is another area of concern TRAFFIC and WWF have flagged for the meeting. 

The organizations say a requirement that the landing of sharks should be mandatory, with fins naturally attached and all products tagged for traceability until their final destination. 


The full shark briefing and position papers prepared by TRAFFIC and WWF ahead of the sixth annual meeting of WCPFC, which takes place in Tahiti, from 7-11 December 2009.