History of Industrial Tuna Fishing in the Pacific Islands

Part of the MARE Publication Series book series (MARE, volume 12)


The island countries and territories of the Pacific Ocean are relatively sparsely populated so there has historically been less fishing pressure on marine animal populations than in many other parts of the world. Industrial tuna fishing around Pacific Island countries began in the first half of the twentieth century, re-emerged after World War II in the 1950s and developed slowly until the 1980s when new fishing practices and new entrants increased catches steeply and steadily in a curve that continues to the present day. It has been estimated that industrial tuna catches are about ten times the volume and over seven times the value of all other fisheries in the Island Pacific combined—both commercial and artisanal. Furthermore, other fisheries that have been tried commercially in the region have not been resilient to industrial scale fishing pressure. Tuna fisheries may be the only potentially sustainable industrial wild-catch fisheries for the Island Pacific. Thus far fishing does not seem to have harmed the capacity of skipjack and albacore to maintain their populations, but it is having a deleterious effect on the biomass of yellowfin and bigeye. Industrial tuna fishing also incidentally kills other animals, but as yet there is not enough data collected to accurately gauge the ecosystem impacts of industrial tuna fisheries. Various attempts have been made to manage industrial tuna fisheries in the region. The main body responsible is the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), established in the 2004. Neither the WCPFC nor other bodies have thus far managed to reign in the overfishing of yellowfin and bigeye.


Industrial tuna fishing Pacific Islands tuna history WCPO WCPFC Fisheries management history 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesUniversity of Technology SydneyBroadwayAustralia

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