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Despite Fixed Efforts Northern Pacific Albacore Shows Better Catches

Although the IATTC doesn’t have the total catch numbers for last year processed yet, in the USA the Western Fishboat Owners Association (WFOA) predicted that the northern pacific albacore campaign of 2008 –from June to November– resulted in 10.500 M/T of the fish.  It’s not clear what the final catch has resulted in, since data from other associations was not available yet.  

Catches could however come close to the 18.039 M/T, which was the total amount of northern albacore caught by IATTC member countries in 2005.
In June that same year the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) published the resolution C-05-02 on Northern Albacore Tuna in which had as its first decision to not increase fishing effort for this particular species beyond current levels.

After the adoption of the resolution, nevertheless landings increased exponentially in the following year: 41% - 25.451M/T in 2006.

Even though the northern albacore catches dropped 8% in 2007, it was still 31% higher than the 2005 level at 23.655 M/T.

Without IATTC’ complete numbers, it’s hard to conclude if catches decreased last year; nevertheless, it’s important to highlight the difference between “fishing effort” and “catch amount”.

Fishing effort can be described as the number of sets targeting tuna per day, and even though it may be lower –in fishing for northern albacore- during the years following 2005, also better technology and more know-how and science allows the catch efficiency to increase, as showed by the numbers above.

According to IATTC, only 328 M/T of the species were caught in the first six months of 2008, but the data from the last semester can dramatically change the total catch numbers since the northern albacore fishing season in Canada and the United States takes place in the second semester.

The two North American countries represented 75% and 81% of total
EPO catches of the species, and most of it was done in the second semester of the year.

Member countries should report –every six months- all catches of north pacific albacore tuna by gear type to the IATTC.