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OPRT Longliner Owners Worried About Over-Capacity Global, September 3, 12

The tuna longline fishery has cut its fleet size substantially over the past decade, but the size of purse seine fleets and their fishing capacity has kept expanding, according to the Organization for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries (OPRT).
The fleet reduction in longliners comes as a result of less mature tuna stocks, which was caused by other fisheries’ catch of juveniles. Now, longliners are operating at an economic limit and have since adopted regulatory measures and improved their fishing economy. The OPRT was first established to eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels and to slash the fishing fleet size.
Meanwhile, the purse seine fishery has continued to grow and develop. With new technology, the fishing efficiency of vessels improves and the fishing capacity of a fleet increases. When compared to longliners, the annual rate of increase in fishing efficiency of purse seiners is far greater, says the OPRT. Longliners’ efficiency has been further reduced by measures that were put in place to mitigate by-catches.
In the Eastern Pacific Ocean, scientists estimate the current fishing capacity of purse seiners is at least in excess by 30%, when compared to the sustainable limit for harvesting the tuna stock. The increase makes it more difficult to manage the fishery and it has had an adverse effect on the catch rate and profit of fishers, says OPRT.
Earlier this month, the OPRT summarized the views of its members in 15 countries concerning the current situation in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean and the lack of progress made by the region’s regulatory body, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). They were concerned that no measures had been taken to address the overfishing capacity of large-scale, purse seine vessels.
In addition, the group also expressed concern over the recent fishing capacity increase of small-scale, longline vessels – which have the same capacity as large-scale vessels – and their significant pressure on resources. The OPRT also said more effective measures were needed to recover the bigeye tuna stock, and that the 2012 management plan was a “simple roll-over” of the 2011 measures.