PACIFIC OCEAN — A report posted on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center website on Aug. 10 stated the Pacific bluefin tuna is showing signs of recovery.
“Although the Pacific bluefin tuna numbers continue to be low, there are signs the population is recovering and rebuilding targets set forth by international agreement are on track to be met,” the report stated. “In July 2018, The International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-Like Species in the North Pacific Ocean released the most recent assessment of Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) and evaluated the likelihood of reaching internationally established rebuilding targets.”
The assessment was based on numbers showing the bluefin spawning stock biomass was at 3.3 percent on 2016, up from 3.0 percent in 2014. Both percentages were relative to the species’ un-fished spawning stock biomass, which, according to NOAA, “is the theoretical amount of fish there would be had there never been fishing.”
“The amount and rate of bluefin harvested continues to be high with the greatest catches (and thus impact) on juveniles in the western Pacific Ocean,” the NOAA report stated. “NOAA Fisheries scientists participate in these assessments and since 2013 the agency has listed Pacific bluefin tuna as overfished and subject to overfishing.”
Those watching the Pacific bluefin tuna species – with NOAA, International Scientific Committee, or otherwise – believe recent analyses show the stock biomass has a 98 percent change of reaching “rebuilt” status by 2024.
“Experts [however] have not yet determined the amount of biomass that would indicate the population is recovered or rebuilt,” the NOAA report continued.