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

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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