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Healthy tuna stock

Monika Singh
Wednesday, December 06, 2017

LATEST research on tuna stocks in the Pacific region shows it maybe a lot healthier than initially thought.

Head of Pacific Community's (SPC) Oceanic Fisheries Programme and the chief scientist advisor to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, Dr John Hampton said a review of their research findings dating back to 2011 had revealed the results.

"The findings of the new study were they don't grow to as large a size but they do grow faster. So when that information goes into the assessment, it indicates a more productive stock, and somewhat more resilient to fishing than had previously been estimated," Dr Hampton said.

He said the previous estimates that tuna stock had depleted by 32 per cent had since been reviewed to 20 per cent.

"So that's quite a big change in terms of what we're estimating the overall impact of fishing to be.

"I think that in a nutshell kind of sums up where we are. So it was mainly the growth," said Dr Hampton.

However environmental groups such as WWF have warned that this does not mean fishing fleets should go all out and start fishing unsustainably.

Dr Hampton said another new finding by scientists was on the size and age at maturity of the fish.

"So when they start spawning they were found to be a year younger than had previously been assumed, in the end largely based on the work done in the Eastern Pacific," he said.

Dr Hampton said: "One of the interesting findings we got was a projected increase in the stock over the last couple of years, and that was consistent with the catch per unit.

"I haven't heard anybody from the industry come up and say, 'that's crazy, we're not catching fish anywhere near this amount your analysis says' or the other way around."

However despite all that, historical industry data still point to tuna data on the decline globally.

"Of course there will always be gaps in the scientific process and it is our job to identify those gaps and add to that knowledge, analyse it and see what the new results say," said Dr Hampton.

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