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Skipjack And Bigeye Catch Levels Falling Sharply In The EPO

Strongly declining bigeye will be high on the agenda of the upcoming IATTC meeting which will be held from 8 to 12th of June in la Jolla, California, USA.  Even though no conservation measure for bigeye tuna has been taken into action since 2007 in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO), catches on the species were down by 36% in the beginning of this year, when compared to 2008.

The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Comission (IATTC), the organization responsible for managing tuna stocks in the area, released the catch figures for the period of January 1st and May 3rd 2009.

Overall combined catches of all tuna species decreased 16%, compared to the same period last year.

Bigeye catches accounted for 16.347 M/T, just 8% of total catches – 197.837 M/T. The quantity caught by May of 2008 represented already 42% of the yearly harvest of bigeye tuna.

With no signs of the recovery of the bigeye stocks, conservational organizations are urging IATTC to enact meaningful measures consistent with its own scientific staff’s advices in order to help bigeye stocks in the EPO come back to healthy levels.  

Ecuador and Panama are the main nations targeting the species.

Skipjack catches are also dramatically lower over the first quarter of this year to:  92.175 M/T, 31% less than last year’s, mostly caught by Ecuador.

The only major tuna species which had its EPO landings increased was yellowfin with 88.289 M/T, purse seiners caught 16% more of which 52% was landed by those flying the Mexican flag.