Conservation and management measures

Conservation and management measures (CMMs) describe binding decisions agreed on by the members and cooperating non-members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) at its annual meeting. These two groups and a third, participating territories, are known collectively as CCMs. Among the members are the 14 small island developing states (SIDS) of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

WCPFC maintains updates to the CMMs.

CMMs direct the SIDS’ and other members’ policies and rules for managing tuna fisheries, including sustaining fish stocks.

Fishing methods

WCPFC reference
Brief summary of main measures
  • These points refer to the high seas inside the area covered by the convention
  • Using large driftnets is prohibited. These are gillnets or other nets, or a combination of nets, that are more than 2.5 km long and are used to trap, enmesh or entangle fish by drifting on or in the water.
  • Fishing vessels are not to be configured to use large driftnets, or to own these kinds of nets. Any that do will be deemed to have used them.
  • Some fishing vessels inside the convention area may be authorised to use large driftnets in waters under national jurisdiction. These vessels may carry driftnets and related fishing equipment on the high seas in the convention area, but they must be stowed or secured so that they cannot be used for fishing.
  • Countries will report annually on their monitoring, control and surveillance actions.
  • Defines a FAD as any object or group of objects, whether it is in use or not, floating on or near the surface of the water where fish may congregate. Examples are buoys, floats, netting, webbing, plastics, bamboo, logs, and whale sharks.
  • During a FAD closure, no purse-seine vessel, or any of its fishing gear or tenders, may operate within one nautical mile of a FAD
  • The operator of a vessel will not use the vessel to aggregate fish, or to move aggregated fish. This includes prohibition of the use of underwater lights and churning.
  • Vessels shall not operate together to catch aggregated fish
  • FADs cannot be retrieved during the closure unless:
    – the FAD (or associated equipment) will be kept on board the vessel until it lands, or until the closure ends; and
    – the vessel does not set lines or nets for 7 days or within a 50-km radius of the point where the FAD was
  • During fishing, any fish being released because it is unsuitable must only be released before the net is fully pursed and half the net has been retrieved
  • Fish that are ‘unfit for human consumption’ are those that have been enmeshed or crushed in the purse-seine net, damaged by sharks or whales, or have died and spoiled in the net. This excludes fish that are considered unmarketable, and that have been spoiled or contaminated because of an act or omission by the crew.
  • If there isn’t enough space on board for all fish caught during the final set of a trip, the fish may only be discarded if they are alive and released promptly, and no further fishing occurs
  • Fish cannot be discarded until an observer has estimated the species composition
  • Vessel operators need to report all details of discarded fish within 48 hours to WCPFC’s executive director and the  WCPFC observer on board

Catch and harvest strategy, data collection, reporting

WCPFC reference
Brief summary of main measures
  • Harvest strategies are to be developed for review in 2017 in response to continued fishing of tuna stocks beyond sustainable yields, and in response to UN commitments
  • Harvest strategies are to cover these tuna species: skipjack, bigeye, yellowfin, South Pacific albacore, Pacific bluefin, and northern albacore
  • Harvest strategies are to include monitoring and evaluating for effectiveness
  • Ensure accurate reporting on catch size and composition, particularly of bigeye tuna
  • Work with non-members to get data on the species caught and size of fish caught in the convention area
  • An accurate log must be kept of every day spent on the high seas in the convention area.
  • Consistent reporting frameworks are to be used
  • The measure sets out the minimum data to be recorded, and when
  • The master of the vessel is to provide an accurate, unaltered report within 15 days of the end of the trip or transhipment, and keep a copy on board the ship during a trip
Unloading and sorting tuna, Noro, Solomon Islands. Photo Francisco Blaha

Unloading and sorting tuna at Noro, Solomon Islands. Harvest strategies are to be developed as fishing for tuna in the WCPO continues to be beyond sustainable yields. Photo credit: Francisco Blaha.