National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Concern for southern bluefin tuna stocks may be eclipsing that for their northern cousins.

Southern bluefin stocks are on the verge of collapsing, according to TRAFFIC, a World Wildlife Fund wildlife trade monitoring program, and several scientists. They "are becoming increasingly concerned at the low level of spawning stock and the low levels of annual recruitment of young fish to that of breeding stock," reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Those concerns will be voiced in a report that will be presented at the Commission for the Conservation of the Southern Bluefin Tuna meeting next week in South Korea.

The report is said to assert that southern bluefin stocks aren't recovering despite significant cuts over the last decade. The Australian Tuna Association disputes that assertion. It says the stock may not be rebounding as quickly as others would like, but it is recovering.

The Australians are also angry that years of overfishing by Japan are canceling out any benefits Australian tunamen should be reaping from the harvest cuts they've endured. Japan admitted several years back that they exceeded its bluefin quota by 120,000 tons — but, the ABC reports, actually blew past the catch limit by 200,000 tons.

Payback to Japan may be coming if a proposal to ban international trade of bluefin to Japan is approved at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora meeting in March 2010.

Then again, so far only the United States and tiny Monaco are supporting the proposal. And if the southern bluefin commission's ability to clamp down on its member nations rivals that of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Bluefin Tunas, recovery of the southern bluefin population could be a long time coming.

Inside the Industry

Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.

Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.


The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is teaming up with leading shark-tracking nonprofit Ocearch to build the most extensive shark-tagging program in the Gulf of Mexico region.

In October, Ocearch is bringing its unique research vessel, the M/V Ocearch, to the gulf for a multi-species study to generate previously unattainable data on critical shark species, including hammerhead, tiger and mako sharks.

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