Ocean FAD Articles > No Catch Limits to NMFS

Report from La Jolla, CA
28 Feb 2010

OceanFAD came to order for the report on meetings held in La Jolla, CA by NMFS. Report made by John Harder as follows.

After reviewing the report given by NMFS, on the Albacore Tuna stock assessment done in 2006-7, John Harder asked the question to NMFS as to why the assessment did not state, or reflect the decline of US sustainable fishing production and effort  made in International waters (off- shore) during this time and previous years. John Harder also noted that there is no distinction, in the assessment report, between catch reports made inside US EEZ and "High Seas" (International Waters). That fishing effort was only coming from inside the US EEZ and is no longer economically sound  in International waters on account of the IUU high seas drift net activity. That there is no indication, in the latest Albacore Tuna stock assessment, that drift nets are targeting the Albacore Tuna species at all. As brought to the attention of the NMFS that 10 years ago, more then 1/2 of the Albacore Tuna taken by US sustainable tuna troll fishery was in International waters. This was not due to Ocean conditions, but conclusive in fish catch reports (log books) and reports made by stakeholders regarding IUU high seas drift net activity observed.

The NMFS only reply was "We report what we are told to report".

Later in the meeting, there was a presentation from Mexico. It was said how Mexico converted their drift net fleet, targeting Thrasher Shark, to long line methods for the taking of swordfish. It is understood that drift nets are not to fish out side of 30 miles from shore line as not to interfere with "off shore" Long line fishery.

It was reported that Mexico was having a productive season with long lining for swordfish, in direct contrast to the un productive season of California using drift nets to take swordfish.

OceanFAD made a comment that the long line method uses "Hook & Line" and therefor is sustainable and can be easily managed. Drift nets are not, nor are they selective.

OceanFAD also commented that it is just a matter of time before Mexico may come to realize, California US drift nets may be depleting their resources, since swordfish are a Highly Migratory Species. The same fish may pass back and forth across the US/Mexico boarder many times as they migrate.

OceanFAD simply stated in "Law of the sea", International law, no one fishery can pose a threat to another.

"Drift nets" ( un-sustainable), and "Hook and Line" (sustainable) are conflicting methods of fishing. We can NOT have both.

As the meeting went on to WCPFC request to reduce catch effort by the US, OceanFAD president John Harder, expressed that the request was invalid and should be in turn asked upon foreign countries involved in IUU drift net fishing, such as Taiwan, China and Korea.

The meeting opened discussions on control dates and annual  coastal Albacore Tuna production tonnage as to set some kind of quota limiting amounts to be caught in the future.

OceanFAD made mention that 70,000 tons of Albacore Tuna is imported into this country from forign nations not in compliance of the WCPFC. US stakeholders should be entitled to fill their own Nation's demand.

OceanFAD stated to set the quota for US sustainable Albacore Tuna take at 70,000 tons.

John Harder also stated, if the IUU fishing has created this demand, by overproduction (over fishing, lower price), they should loose their quota.

NMFS had little to say about that.

After reporting to the board of directors of OFAD, John Harder explained that the outcome of this meeting in La Jolla was going to be brought forward to the Pacific Fisheries Management Counsel this June in Portland OR. A motion was made to go forward with submitting a letter to The Pacific Fisheries Council in these regards. It was also motioned that John Harder, if able, will attend such meeting to represent OFAD.

This motion was second & passed.

Motion to adjourn was made, second & all in favor.

John Harder