Hawaii's longline fishing boat owners expect their sales of ahi will drop by
millions of dollars under an agreement in which the United States will reduce
its longline tuna catch for three years starting in 2015.
US longline fishing boats in the western and central Pacific must cut their
catch of bigeye tuna by 10%, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. That will
amount to at least a $10 million drop in bigeye tuna sales by 2017.
Promoting sustainable fishing
The catch limits were agreed to by the 27-member Western and Central Pacific
Fisheries Commission last month in Cairns, Australia. The commission, of which
the US is a member, is a multinational group formed to promote sustainable
fishing in the Pacific.
US representatives to the commission argued for a higher limit but agreed to
the reduction because it was in the best interest of the country, said Russell
F Smith, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for international fisheries.
Smith, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
said the measure helps to ensure that tropical tunas, including bigeye, are
better managed by the commission.
Each of the major developed countries' longline fleets agreed to a 10%
reduction in their bigeye tuna catch, he said, except for China, which agreed
to a 25% reduction.
China agreed to a larger cut to make up for reductions it was supposed to
take in earlier years, observers said.
Longline vessels string a line in the ocean, ranging from one mile (1.6 kilometres)
to 50 miles (80 kilometres) long, to catch fish. Nearly 90% of the bigeye
caught by US longline vessels is caught by Hawaii boats.
Strict monitoring and enforcement
Hawaii Longline Association President Sean Martin, who was part of the US
delegation at Cairns, said he was disappointed with the commission's decision.
Fishing industry officials said the US has complied with ongoing
conservation and management measures set forth by the commission through strict
monitoring and enforcement agreements, a number of other nations either exceed
quotas or do not monitor catches to the same level as the US
Martin said in 2008 the commission set a limit of 204 for the number of
purse seine vessels which are large industrial ships that use giant nets to
surround and capture schools of tuna in the Western Pacific, but there are now
more than 300. The US, he said, has kept its number of vessels to the 40 as
agreed to in the 2008 measure.
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