Coastal Fisheries Programme

Number 153 (May–August 2017)

Produced by the Pacific Community, Division of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems, Information Section, BP D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia

Produced with financial assistance from the Australian Government, the European Union, France and the New Zealand Aid Programme


In 2016, scientists from the Pacific Community estimated that bigeye tuna stocks in the western and central Pacific were ‘overfished and overfishing was still occurring’. In 2017, according to the latest assessment that was undertaken by the same group of scientists: ‘bigeye tuna stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring’. Nature can be generous, but such a rapid change in the assessment cannot only be due to good fortune and it requires further explanation. Although Mother Nature did play a role in the increased number of fish that are able to reproduce (the spawning biomass), most of the upturn is due to a change in some of the scientific parameters that were used for the assessment. John Hampton, SPC Chief Scientist (Oceanic Fisheries), explains the situation in detail in his excellent article ‘What is going on with bigeye tuna?’.

Based on past assessments, the management decisions that were made to reduce fishing pressure on bigeye tuna probably impacted the revenue of tuna fishing companies and those who are responsible for tuna fishery management at the country level will find it difficult to explain the change; however, at least they will be announcing ‘good news’.

‘On the positive side’ as John notes in his conclusion ‘it does seem as though the science process has worked as it should’. While some degree of uncertainty always remains with stock assessments, it now seems likely that bigeye is out of the red zone and joined the other three main tuna stocks of the western and central Pacific – skipjack, yellowfin and albacore – in the green zone. Let’s hope sound scientific processes followed by wise management decisions will keep them there for many years!

Aymeric Desurmont
Fisheries Information Specialist




Juvenile bigeye tuna tagged and ready to be released
(image: Jeff Dubosc).

In this issue


  • The e-volution of fisheries monitoring: The implementation of e-reporting and e-monitoring tools in longline and purse seine fisheries  (pdf: )

  • Pacific tuna stock assessment requires regular tagging experiments  (pdf: )

  • SPC assists Federated States of Micronesia with a sea cucumber assessment in Pohnpei  (pdf: )

  • ‘Blue boats’ are a problem!  (pdf: )

  • MFAT-funded Coastal Fisheries and Aquaculture Governance Project update  (pdf: )

  • Freshwater prawn hatchery master class for Fiji Ministry of Fisheries hatchery staff (pdf: )


  • A Marshall Islands’ successful aquaculture venture  (pdf: )

  • Ecotourism and giant clam community-based nurseries in Samoa  (pdf: )

  • News from the Tuvalu Fisheries Department (TFD) (pdf: )

  • Kiribati becomes the fourth country in the Pacific authorised to export its seafood to the European Union  (pdf: )


  • What is going on with bigeye tuna?  (pdf: )

  • Spatio-temporal interactions between whale sharks, cetaceans and the European tropical tuna purse seine fishery in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans (pdf: )

  • Legislating for A New Song: Ensuring effective and up-to-date coastal fisheries laws in the Pacific Region (pdf: )

  • Exploring the use of bylaws as an enabling tool for sustainable community-based fisheries management in Kiribati (pdf: )

  • Delivering the Liomaran: Honiara to Yap in 1975 (pdf: )

pdfDownload the complete publication:

Fisheries Newsletter #153 (pdf: )



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