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The fourteenth regular session of the Northern Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) finishes up Friday, 7 September, after three days of meetings in Fukuoka, Japan.
The committee has been considering a draft conservation management measure for a Pacific bluefin tuna catch documentation scheme. General goals for tuna management were already outlined at the committee’s December meeting in Manila, the Philippines. These included keeping WCPFC members’ total fishing effort in the area north of the 20th parallel below the 2002-2004 annual average catch levels; and keeping total catch of Pacific bluefin tuna weighing less than 30 kilograms at less than 50 percent of the 2002-2004 annual average levels. The proposal calls for any overage of the catch limit to be deducted from the country’s catch limit for the following year.
In order to achieve these goals, the establishment of conservation management measures was promoted, with certain requirements, with the prerequisite that members will cooperate to establish a catch documentation scheme to be applied to Pacific bluefin tuna; and that members would also take measures to strengthen monitoring and data collecting system for Pacific bluefin tuna fisheries and farming in order to improve the data quality and timeliness of data reporting.
The goal of the CDS is to make it difficult to sell illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fish, as they would lack the necessary paper (or electronic) trail. A major point to be decided is whether the CDS would be paper-based or electronic. Other questions to be debated include whether the documents should be validated and by whom, and whether there should be an exemption for artisanal and recreational fisheries.
During its meeting, the WCPFC will also investigate the systems used by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT).