Non proud records - WCPFC Higher Ever Catch of Skipjack / by Francisco Blaha

Skipjack catches during 2013 in the Western Central Pacific (WCP) reached the highest ever-annual volume reported for the region.

 Lots of it... but not better money for the catch

Lots of it... but not better money for the catch

As WCPFC reported in its "Overview of tuna fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean" for 2013 at SC10 in Majuro, last year's skipjack catch was 1,784,091 M/T, nearly 5,000 tons than the previous record-holding year 

The WCPO is the most significant fishing ground for skipjack tuna (almost 70 % of the world's landings of the species). Skipjack is the most important species in the canning industry; in 2012, just over 1.6 million tons of canned tuna ready product were produced worldwide. 

Around 77 % of the skipjack catch in 2013, was caught by purse seine vessels (over 1.7 million tons). And a declining proportion (9%) was taken by the pole and line,  a more sustainable fishing method that harvest less volumes and is more selective, which as a consequence renders more costly Skipjack, unfortunately the canning market is not able (or willing) to pay more for a better sourced fish. 

 Much better fishing, employs more locals... but is more expensive, and most people don't want to pay the difference

Much better fishing, employs more locals... but is more expensive, and most people don't want to pay the difference

It's clear from the WCPFC report that these big landings haven't necessarily meant better economic returns for the Distant Water Fishing Nations.

During 2013, the economic condition of tuna fisheries in the WCP went down compared to 2012 as prices for skipjack declined significantly, while fuel costs remained high. 

The value of the tuna catch in WCP last year fell by around USD 1 billion, down to USD 6.2 billion, of which only less that 450 million stays in the region.

And while the Skipjack stock is relatively healthy in comparison to yellowfin and bigeye (whose juveniles get caught with skipjack by purse seiners... record volumes of catch for less money, is not something that anyone should be proud of.