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SPC: Ensuring We Will Have Many “World Tuna Days” To Come

Today, May 2, 2013, provides an opportunity to recall that since 1977 the Secretariat of the Pacific Community has been providing scientific advice to help manage Pacific tuna stocks. Tuna is a vital natural resource for Pacific island countries and territories, or PICTs. SPC provides technical support to its member countries so that they can make the right decisions to ensure a sustainable supply of bigeye, yellow-fin, albacore and skipjack tuna-both for households in the Pacific and consumers around the world. The scientific advice and technical support of SPC within the Pacific should assure that people with the Pacific and around the globe can continue to enjoy all the benefits tuna brings, and that “World Tuna Day” will be celebrated in a positive mood for years to come.

Why manage tuna resources?

Given the steady rise in the world population and increasingly effective fishing techniques, tuna stocks are under growing pressure. Given that they are also a major source of income for most PICTs, it is important that those countries secure optimum benefits from the resource by increasing both catch value and the percentage of the total catch that comes from domestic fleets. This strategy relies on having a healthy resource, with management informed by good science.

A well-designed work process

SPC collects and analyzes a huge volume of fisheries data collected in the western and central Pacific Ocean. Hundreds of thousands of sheets of data from fishing vessels, observers, and port samplers are entered and checked each year.

SPC scientists use that information to carry out extensive analysis in order to have an accurate and independent perspective on the region’s oceanic fisheries. They are then able to respond to hundreds of requests for information from member countries concerning tuna biology (growth rates, reproduction, feeding habits), annual catches in volume and value, state of the stocks, or the impact climate change has on the different species.

Partners and international recognition

Such information is vital for improving regional tuna fisheries management and development. Management measures to ensure the viability of tuna species stocks are mainly taken at the level of the Forum Fisheries Agency, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission-which brings together both Pacific island countries and the big fish catching nations such as Japan, Korea, the European Union, China and the United States.

SPC closely collaborates with such regional policy-making bodies by providing them with high-quality scientific advice. This relies on the support of a wide range of donor partners such as the European Union; the governments of Australia, Papua New Guinea Korea, France, Japan, and New Zealand; the World Bank; and charitable trusts including the Heinz and Pew Foundations.