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Philippine 2012 Tuna Catches Increase Outside Own Waters Philippines, September 13, 13

Tuna catches in 2012 by Philippine flagged vessels were on the rise again after significant decline from 2009 to 2011. While catch in their own waters increased just slightly, a more dramatic recovery has been visible from Philippine catch in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO).

After hitting maximum yields on tuna stocks in their own waters, the Philippine fleet has been left with no option but to move its focus onto tuna fishing grounds elsewhere in the WCPO, predominantly within the PNA and the High Sea Pockets. Figures for these waters rose from just under 200,000 tons in 2011 to nearly 250,000 tons in 2012. Catch from Philippine waters only increased less than 10,000 tons.

From 2009 to 2011 the downward trend of catch in both waters was almost synchronized in the rate of its depression, indicating that most volumes were lost in Philippines own tuna fishing grounds, with catches at distant waters remaining rather stable. The turnaround represented in 2011 has been much stronger in the WCPO, causing concerns over the Philippine fleet’s impact on tuna stocks in the largest tuna fishing ground in the world.

Recent reports have highlighted Greenpeace’s urge for the Philippines, the second largest tuna fishing nation in the world, to implement strict reduction measures in the WCPO to protect the future stocks of tuna. They emphasize the protection of bigeye and yellowfin tuna in this water region. The Philippines currently operate 76 industrial size purse seiners.

The existing FAD ban in the WCPO, applied by the WCPFC, will be in place until the end of October. With an expected hike this year in tuna catch for the Philippine fleet due to the deployment of more vessels, annual totals will indicate whether the current regulations in place are causing reduction in the country’s tuna catch. If not, Greenpeace says additional measures need to be implemented.

The dramatically declining catch visible from 2009 to 2011 however has been disputed within the industry, with many believing that totals were over-reported. Present catch statistics are thought to show a more true representation of the volume caught by the Philippine fleet.