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There has recently been a great deal of concern expressed by regional tuna fisheries management organizations, governments and the tuna fishing industry that there is excess fishing capacity in the world's tuna fleets, which could lead to overfishing of some populations, such as yellowfin and bigeye, and to harvests of skipjack in excess of demand, resulting in reduced ex-vessel prices.
Analyses have shown for the world's purse-seine fleet that fishing capacity, measured as the ability of vessels or fleets to catch fish, is greater than that needed to sustain current levels of harvest. Although similar analyses have not been conducted for other gear types, the longline industry has initiated measures to reduce capacity of large-scale longline fleets by 20 percent.
There have been several efforts by regional tuna bodies to implement measures to limit the capacity of some tuna fleets operating in their respective regions. The most comprehensive of these has been the Regional Vessel Register (RVR) of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC).
In the present study, two categories of options for managing fishing capacity, particularly for purse-seine fleets, are presented: 1) open-access and common property-based options, and 2) limited-entry and rights-based options. The first category includes the options of i) maintaining the status quo and ii) reducing capacity by closing off part of a vessel's fish-storage space, but not its fishing power, or requiring vessels to remain in port at the end of each trip for periods longer than necessary for unloading the catch and re-supplying the vessel. Neither of these options is considered to be an effective means of addressing the capacity problem. The second category includes i) an RVR similar to that of the IATTC, but with a vessel buy-back option, ii) a self-regulating measure that assigns individual quotas and iii) licensing schemes, including fractional licences and the use of auctions for the sale and transfer of licences.
It is concluded that the common-property and open-access nature of tuna fisheries has been a major cause of excess capacity in these fisheries, and that moving away from these concepts toward rights-based management schemes might resolve the problems of excess capacity.
Because the process of developing acceptable measures to reduce capacity will be slow and difficult to achieve, it is recommended that the regional tuna bodies strengthen and/or implement as soon as possible moratoria on the growth of capacity in all industrial-scale tuna fisheries. It is also recommended that the regional tuna bodies work together to establish a list of all medium- and large-scale tuna vessels, including the vessel characteristics and specifications needed to monitor world tuna fishing capacity.
Over the last several years there has been a great deal of attention given to the problem of excess capacity in fisheries (Gréboval and Munro, 1999). This has led to the development of an International Plan of Action for the management of fishing capacity (IPOA-CAPACITY), which was approved in 1999 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (Cunningham and Gréboval, 2001). The IPOA-CAPACITY called on states and regional fishery bodies to achieve efficient, equitable and transparent management of fishing capacity worldwide, preferably by 2003, but no later than 2005. Although the IPOA-CAPACITY did not specifically or uniquely address the issue of tuna fishing capacity, tuna fisheries are apparently suffering the same woes of excess capacity as are most other fisheries. This general concern over excess capacity in the world's tuna fisheries has been expressed by all of the regional tuna bodies. For the most part, these regional tuna bodies have initiated measures to address the problem of excess capacity. In addition, the tuna industry itself has expressed concern, and, indeed, has initiated, in some cases, measures to mitigate the problem.
The problem of excess capacity in the world's tuna fleets was the object of a study by Joseph (2003), who attempted to show for the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO), and, by inference, for other areas, that there was more purse-seine tuna fishing capacity than needed to harvest the available resources. In that study, he presented a series of ideas that might be considered in the search for effective mechanisms for managing capacity.
In response to this growing concern over excess capacity in the world's tuna fisheries, during the latter half of 2002 FAO started a project on management of tuna fishing capacity. The objectives of the project are to provide technical information necessary for addressing problems associated with the world-wide management of tuna fishing capacity, taking into account conservation of the tuna stocks and socio-economic issues. Majkowski (2003) defined the project's activities to consist of 1) technical work preparatory to an Expert Consultation on Management of Tuna Fishing Capacity, 2) a consultation to review and integrate the results of the preparatory work and to formulate conclusions and recommendations, and 3) dissemination of these findings. To assist FAO in achieving its objectives regarding the project, a Technical Advisory Committee on capacity (TAC) was established to provide technical advice on the best way of implementing the project. The motivation for the present paper is to provide background information to the TAC, which, in turn, will provide advice to FAO and the Expert Consultation on Management of Tuna Fishing Capacity on measures for limiting fishing capacity in the world's tuna fisheries.
Since the preliminary work of Joseph (2003), several more comprehensive studies have been completed, many as a result of the work of the TAC, dealing with trends in the capacity of tuna fishing fleets and with the measurement of fishing capacity in the world's purse-seine and longline fleets (Gillett; Reid et al.; and Miyake, this collection). The studies, which are reviewed in Section 2 of this report, conclude that there is more capacity in the world's purse-seine and longline fleets than is needed to take the current levels of catch. In other words, the levels of catch being made in these fisheries today could be taken with significantly less capacity. For the purposes of this paper the conclusions of Reid et al. (this collection), will be considered accurate, and it will be assumed that there is excess capacity in the world's purse-seine fisheries.
As stated in Joseph's (2003) review, there have been several initiatives taken by regional tuna bodies, and by the tuna industry, to address the problem of excess capacity. Notable among these is the program of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) to limit purse-seine capacity in the EPO, the efforts of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to limit the number of vessels fishing for northern albacore and bigeye in the Atlantic Ocean, the Organization for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries (OPRT) to reduce world longline fleets by 20 percent and the efforts of the World Tuna Purse-seine Organization (WTPO) to place a moratorium on the entry of new purse-seine vessels into the world's tuna fisheries. Based on the initiatives of the OPRT, it will be assumed that there is excess capacity in the world's longline fisheries. These topics will be reviewed and updated in Section 3 of this report.
Considering the assumption made above, that there is more fishing capacity in the world's purse-seine and longline fleets than is needed to take current levels of harvest, this paper will examine a series of options that might be considered for managing tuna-fishing capacity. These options, which will be presented in Section 4 of this report, will deal primarily with possible measures for controlling the capacity of purse-seine vessels that normally fish beyond the near-coastal zone and that were included in the analysis of Reid et al. (this collection). The current size of the world fleet of large purse-seiners is about 570 vessels, which capture slightly more than 60 percent of all of the principal market species of tunas taken from the world's oceans. By moving quickly to address the capacity problem in the purse-seine fleet, the potential impact of too much fishing mortality could be averted. However, in any lasting and equitable solution to the capacity problem, all fleets that harvest tunas must be incorporated into capacity-limitation programs. Therefore, although it is not the intention of the author to address the issue of capacity in non-purse-seine fisheries, some attention will be given to these other fleets, particularly the distant-water longline fleets.
In the final sections of this report the author will summarize his findings with respect to possible options for managing fishing capacity, and, as appropriate, address recommendations to the TAC, regional tuna bodies, national fishery administrations and the private sector.
In this section of the report available information on the current numbers and capacities of tuna-fishing vessels and data on past trends, and also published reports on whether there is excess capacity in the tuna fisheries, will be reviewed. The amount and quality of the information available varies greatly. The most complete and current data are for purse-seine fleets, particularly those that operate primarily in the Pacific Ocean, followed by information on large-scale longline vessels. There is limited information available on capacity in the pole-and-line fleets, trolling fleets and miscellaneous other types of fishing fleets. The only detailed and readily-available information on long-term trends in the capacity of tuna fleets is for purse-seine and pole-and-line vessels in the EPO.
2.1 Defining capacity
Before going further with this discussion, it is necessary to discuss what is meant by the term capacity in this report, since it is defined and used in so many different ways. The term capacity is generally used to reflect what a vessel can catch, or how much fishing mortality a vessel is capable of generating. Most fisheries scientists use some input indicator such as the size of a vessel or its engine power to define capacity because they believe them to be related to the ability of a vessel to generate fishing mortality. The fishing industry most often uses size as a measure of capacity because it is related to how much fish a vessel can catch in a single trip. Economists generally prefer some technological-economic approach, using potential output to measure fishing capacity, because such an approach can be used to compute optimal inputs (Morrison, 1985). The economists' approach is widely applied by governments throughout the world (largely administered through surveys of businesses) when measuring the amount of productive capacity that is utilized in different industries and in the economy at large (Corrado and Mattey, 1997).
The most common indicators of capacity for high-seas tuna vessels used by fisheries scientists are: 1) Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT), which is the total of all the enclosed space within a vessel, and is expressed in tons, each of which is equivalent to 100 cubic feet. The GRT of a vessel can be easily changed by changing bulkheads and walls; 2) Net Registered Tonnage (NRT), which is the total of all enclosed space within a vessel available for cargo and expressed in tons. The NRT can also be easily altered by changing partitions; and 3) Fish-Carrying Capacity (FCC), which generally relates to how many tonnes of fish the vessel can carry when fully loaded. For most large tuna vessels there is a close linear relation between each of the measures, GRT, NRT and FCC. The FCC has been one of the most commonly-used measures of capacity for purse-seine and pole-and-line vessels. It is easily understood by the fishing industry, and generally easy to compute. However, like GRT and NRT, FCC is a plastic measure which can change with the size of fish that are being loaded on board or the way the fish is packed for quality purposes (Gillette and Lewis, 2003). Because the measure is somewhat plastic, management agencies have had difficulties in fixing the exact value of FCC for individual vessels when regulations and/or monetary assessments have been based on the measure. To get around these problems, cubic metres of refrigerated fish storage space, a less pliable measure of how much fish a vessel can carry, is being used more frequently as a measure of capacity.
The FAO Fisheries Department convened technical meetings of experts to address the issues of how to define, measure and control fishing capacity in 1988 and 1999. The primary result of these meetings was to define fishing capacity in terms of potential output. The definition arrived at was that fishing capacity is the maximum amount of fish or fishing effort that can be produced over a period of time by a fishing fleet if fully utilized, given the biomass and age structure of the fish stock and the present state of technology; in other words, it is the ability of a vessel or vessels to catch fish. To facilitate the measurement of excess capacity, which the meetings concluded was the difference between capacity output and a target level of capacity output, target fishing capacity was defined. Target fishing capacity is the maximum amount of fish that can be produced over a period of time by a fishing fleet if fully utilized, while satisfying fishery management objectives designed to ensure sustainable fisheries.
Although fisheries scientists may have some difficulty in applying these technological-economic definitions of fishing capacity to their studies to estimate fishing effort and fishing mortality, the definitions facilitate studies to determine whether excess capacity exists. A series of such analysis for tuna fisheries have been commissioned by FAO for evaluation by the TAC; the results of these analyses will be discussed later in this section.
2.2 Estimates of capacity
As noted above, the most detailed information available on the numbers and capacities of vessels is for the tuna purse-seine fleets.
126.96.36.199 Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO)
Joseph (2003) showed trends in Fish-Carrying Capacity (FCC), measured in tonnes, for the purse-seine fleet of the EPO for 1960-2001. These statistics have been updated for 1961-2002 and expressed in cubic metres of well volume (IATTC, 2004). In 1961 there were 125 purse-seine vessels with an average capacity of 256 cubic metres, and a combined FCC of 32 thousand cubic metres. By 1980 the average capacity of the purse-seine vessels had increased to 726 cubic metres, and the combined FCC to 196 thousand cubic metres. During this period of fleet expansion the catches of tuna, after reaching the highest levels then recorded, began to decline as a result of the excess fishing mortality generated by this very large fleet. Because of reduced stock abundance and poor catches, much of the fleet left the fishery during 1980-1984. After the stock of tuna recovered, many, but not all, of the vessels returned to the fishery in 1985-1986. Between 1984 and 1996 FCC averaged about 130 thousand cubic metres. During this period catch rates per vessel were high, which attracted new investment in vessels. Capacity began to increase, and by the end of 2002 it reached about 200 thousand cubic metres, the greatest in the history of the fishery. There has been concern that these increases in capacity will result in a repeat of the situation during the 1970s, when there was more fishing capacity than needed to harvest the available resources, which caused the catch rates to decline.
To look at the problem of excess capacity, Joseph (2003) applied a linear programming technique, Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), which was first applied to problems of fishing capacity by Kirkley and Squires (1999) to estimate the technical efficiency and potential catching capacity of the EPO purse-seine fleet. The estimates of fishing capacity from the analysis were based on the greatest observed catches in a year, and took into account yearly changes in stock biomass and sea-surface temperatures. Two analyses were conducted, one for yellowfin alone and one for skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye combined. In both cases the estimated fishing capacity, that is the maximum potential output of the fleet, was greater than the observed catch. For the 1970-2000 period, the ratio of the combined annual catch of skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye to the DEA-estimated fishing capacity, which is a measure of capacity utilization, was between 0.5 and 0.7, indicating that there was excess capacity in the EPO purse-seine fleet. In other words, if all the vessels in the fleet operated as well as the most efficient vessels, the observed catches could have been taken with fewer vessels than operated in the fishery. It was concluded in the study that, even though substantial excess capacity existed in the fishery, it was probably overestimated because individual vessel data were not used and yield curves, including estimates of average maximum sustainable yield (AMSY) were not incorporated into the analyses. In addition to these estimates of excess capacity in the fishery, the IATTC has estimated that the fleet is probably about 25 percent greater than that needed to take current levels of catch.
In a more recent DEA study for the EPO, Reid et al. (this collection), estimated capacity output and technical efficiency for the purse-seine fleet during 1998-2002. They found that excess capacity for combined catches of skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye, defined as capacity output minus observed landings, exists for all vessel size classes. Between 1998 and 2002, excess capacity, purged of technical efficiency, increased by about 60 percent. In terms of capacity utilization (CU), the ratio of landings to capacity output, current levels of catch in the EPO could be taken with a fleet that is between 60 and 75 percent of its current size.
188.8.131.52 Western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO)
Gillett and Lewis (2003) estimated the numbers and carrying capacities of purse-seine vessels participating in the tuna fishery of the WCPO during 1988, 1995 and 2003. They considered any vessel with a capacity greater than 400 cubic metres that fished during the year to be participating in the fishery in that year, and excluded vessels that fished only in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and other countries of the WCPO. For 1988, they estimated that there were 136 purse-seine vessels with a combined capacity of 140 thousand cubic metres (average capacity equal to 1073 cubic metres). For 1995, they estimated that there were 175 vessels, with a combined capacity of 200 thousand cubic metres (average capacity equal to 1143 cubic metres). By 2003 the number of vessels had increased to 191, with a combined carrying capacity of 233 thousand cubic metres. This represents a growth of 66 percent between 1988 and 2003 in the capacity of the purse-seine fleet in the WCPO.
Joseph (2003) also estimated the numbers and capacities of purse-seine vessels operating in the western Pacific Ocean, but his estimate for 2000 was greater than that of Gillett and Lewis (2003). This is particularly evident if the figures expressed in the Joseph study are converted to cubic metres, to make them comparable to those of Gillett and Lewis figures; the conversion would increase the estimate by about seven percent. This was probably due to several factors. First, vessels over 250 tonnes of carrying capacity were counted in the Joseph study, whereas only vessels over 400 cubic metres were counted in the Gillett and Lewis study. Second, some vessels that fished only in domestic waters were included in the Joseph study, whereas these were not included in the Gillett and Lewis study. Third, Gillett and Lewis considered they may have underestimated capacity by about ten percent.
Similar to the situation in the EPO, the growing fleet size and increased catches in the WCPO, and the recent extremely low ex-vessel prices paid for canning-grade tuna worldwide, have led to concern on the part of many of the nations involved in the WCPO fishery as to whether there is a potential problem concerning the size of the purse-seine fleet in the fishery. Reid et al. (2003), provide some insight into this problem. They used catch data by set type (sets on floating objects, payaos and schools) within categories of vessel size and DEA to estimate potential catches under observed levels of fishing effort. They used two approaches regarding the number of sets per day and the types of sets made by an average vessel. In one analysis, technical efficiency, or skipper skill, was purged, and in the other it wasn't. Analyses were run for each national fleet and for all fleets combined. For all fleets combined the "non-purged" analysis estimated that if all vessels worked at the full-capacity level the annual catches taken during 1997-2000 could have been taken with 77 percent of the actual effort expended. Alternatively, if all vessels worked at their fleet's best-practice production frontier by using the appropriate level of variable inputs and were fully technically efficient, the observed number of fishing days during the same period would have produced 25 percent more catch. When the number of sets per day was fixed and technical efficiency or skipper skill purged, the excess capacity is estimated to be much less. In this case, if effort days were reduced by seven percent the same catches during 1997-2000 could be made. Alternatively if all vessels operated at the production frontier level, the same number of days generated during 1997-2000 would have harvested eight percent more fish. These results suggest that the recent levels of catch observed in the fishery could have been taken with a smaller fleet, or that the current fishery has a capacity in excess of what is needed to take current levels of harvest.
In a more recent study, Reid et al. (this collection), confirmed the results presented in the earlier study mentioned above, and concluded that if WCPO vessels operated efficiently, fully utilizing their variable inputs, and harvesting the average annual reported levels of landings, fleet sizes could be reduced by around 12 percent.
184.108.40.206 Atlantic Ocean
Joseph (2003) estimated that there were approximately 53 purse-seine vessels with a carrying capacity of about 48 thousand tonnes that were available to fish in the Atlantic Ocean during 2000. Most of these vessels were in the 800- to 1200-tonne class. Data on long-term trends in fleet carrying capacity have not been generally available for the Atlantic. However, Reid et al. (this collection) were able to obtain some data on purse-seine fleets with which they could extend their DEA studies to the Atlantic Ocean. They found excess capacity to exist, but that it was not as severe as those for some of the other oceans. They concluded that if vessels operated efficiently, fully utilized their variable inputs, and harvested the average annual reported level of landings, fleet size could be reduced by about 13 percent.
220.127.116.11 Indian Ocean
The purse-seine fishery in the Indian Ocean did not develop significantly until the early 1980s, when French and Spanish vessels began to fish for part of the year in the Indian Ocean. Detailed estimates of the number of vessels that operated in the Indian Ocean are not readily available, but Joseph (2003) estimated that in 2000 there were approximately 67 purse-seine vessels with a carrying capacity of nearly 130 thousand tonnes available to fish in the Indian Ocean. Most of these vessels had capacities of more than 1800 tonnes. Using aggregated data for 1981-2002, Reid et al. (this collection), estimated that the current fleet size for the Atlantic could be reduced by about 23 percent without reducing the recent average levels of catches of skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore. They stressed that for both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean the estimates of capacity output are extreme lower-bound estimates.
Longline vessels operate wherever tunas are found throughout the oceans of the world. The large-scale longliners fish primarily for the sashimi market; their catches are frozen at ultra-low temperatures, and fishing voyages may last up to a year. Although most of the regional tuna organizations attempt to maintain lists of large-scale longline vessels that operate in their areas, the lists are not adequate for examining trends in fleet capacity.
Miyake (this collection) has estimated the numbers of longline vessels currently fishing for tunas throughout the oceans of the world. He broke his estimates into two groups, small longliners greater than 24 metres, but equal to or less than 35 metres in overall length, and large-scale longliners that are greater than 35 metres in overall length. He estimated that there are currently 1622 large-scale longliners and 1421 small longliners that fish for tunas. In addition, there are 106 large-scale longliners and 503 small longliners that fish primarily for swordfish, but may occasionally fish for tunas.
Miyake also estimated the amounts of tuna taken by these longline fleets. The large-scale longliners annually capture about 390 thousand tonnes of all species of tunas combined, and the small longliners take about 200 thousand tonnes annually. He notes that the economic break-even point for a large longliner is about 240 tonnes of tuna per year, which is very close to the actual per-vessel production per year, and that, because the species of tuna longliners exploit are fully exploited, increased catches cannot be expected. (Longliners also catch billfishes in addition to tunas and, depending on the quantities taken, this could affect the economic break-even point). He concluded that there is excess capacity in the longline fleets of the world, and if capacity could be reduced, catch and earnings per vessel would increase. The fact that the longline fishing industry is undertaking measures to reduce the number of longline vessels by 20 percent is cited by Miyake as clear evidence of excess capacity. As further evidence of the problems of capacity in the longline fleets, Miyake showed that the number of longliners in the Japanese fleet is declining. In 1980 there were 864 large-scale longliners in the Japanese fleet, but this number declined to 503 in 2000. Similarly, the corresponding numbers for small longliners in the Japanese fleet are 554 and 134. Finally, he notes that data on artisanal longline vessels that fish mostly for subsistence purposes are not available, but that the numbers are significant.
2.2.3 Other gear
Purse-seine and longline vessels account for about 75 percent of the world catch of the principal market species of tuna. Of the remaining 25 percent, pole-and-line vessels account for about 18 percent and miscellaneous other gear for the rest. Obviously, for any management schemes to be effective, all significant gear types must be considered. However, there have been few analyses of the impact of these other gear types on the problems of excess capacity. There are few data available on trends or current levels of capacity for these gear types.
In studies on the control and management of fishing capacity in the world's tuna fisheries, the TAC was interested in evaluating the impact of small-scale and artisanal type fisheries on measures to control fishing capacity. After considering this matter, it was decided that it would be virtually impossible to estimate the capacity of small-scale and artisanal fleets, given the complexity of such fisheries and the time and cost needed to complete such a study. Therefore, it was concluded that an estimate should be made of how much tuna these small-scale and artisanal type fisheries harvest annually, so that information could be used to evaluate their importance to any efforts to manage fishing capacity. Consequently the FAO commissioned a study to look at this problem (Gillett, this collection). In his report, Gillett notes "Rather than attempting to formulate a clever definition of small-scale/artisanal tuna fishing and then apply it globally to tuna fisheries, it may be more appropriate to establish a boundary for information to be collected by this study in accordance with objectives of the FAO tuna fishing capacity work. That is, the boundary should be established in view of the aim of knowing the level of catches of all tuna fisheries for which capacity estimation is not possible". He divided tuna fisheries into industrial and non-industrial categories. Non-industrial fisheries were subdivided into small-scale and medium-scale components. Industrial and small-scale fisheries were defined by gear and/or vessel attributes. The small-scale category included handlines, trolling from open vessels, rod and reel, recreational fishing, and the use of undecked, un-powered or sail vessels, or vessels powered by outboard engines. Medium-scale fisheries were considered to be those that fell between industrial fisheries and small-scale fisheries. Gillett estimated that about 320 thousand tonnes of the principal market species of tuna are harvested by the small-scale fisheries, but he was unable to estimate the proportion of the catch taken by the medium-scale component. The eight percent of the world catch of the small-scale fisheries is significant enough to require that any effective plan to manage tuna fisheries include this component of the fishery.
Owing to a number of unique characteristics of tunas and the fisheries for them, their effective management offers several challenges. Tunas are widespread throughout the oceans of the world. Most of the species of tuna undertake extensive migrations that carry them through the jurisdictional waters of many coastal states and onto the high seas, which are beyond the jurisdiction of any single state. If they are to be properly managed any management measure must apply to wherever the tuna are found. It would do no good to provide protection for them when they are in one area if they do not receive equal protection when in another. The fleets that fish for tunas are also very specialized, and very mobile. An entire fleet of vessels can move from a fishery in one region of the world to one in another region with great ease. A single vessel may fish in two or three oceans in a single year. Likewise, the market for tunas is international, the product moving throughout the markets of the world. A small change in production in one area can have an almost instant effect on price world wide. The nations framing the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC) recognized the migratory characteristics of tunas, and the uniqueness of the fisheries for them, and called on states with an interest in tunas, including fishing and coastal states, to work jointly through international regional bodies to manage tunas. This concept is included in Article 64 of the Convention, which mandates that nations work cooperatively through regional fishery bodies in managing highly-migratory species, and, where such organizations do not exist, to create them. Highly-migratory species, which include the principal market species of tunas discussed in this report, are listed in an annex to the LOSC. In keeping with the objectives of the LOSC, there are presently Article 64-type tuna bodies in all the oceans of the world (although one of these is not yet operational). These organizations are responsible for managing the tunas.
Until recently, there have been few attempts to manage tuna fisheries by the implementation of input controls, such as limits on the number of days that can be fished or the number of vessels authorized to fish. Most efforts to manage tuna have involved output controls, particularly catch quotas and minimum size limits. The success of output controls in conserving tuna stocks has been limited because they have not controlled the number of vessels that can participate in harvesting the allowable catch. In fact, in the few examples in which catch quotas have been applied to tunas, they have frequently stimulated fleet growth rather than limiting it. So long as there is open access to the resource being managed there is an incentive for fishers to increase their opportunity to take a greater share of the allowable harvest by adding to their fishing capacity, either through the addition of new vessels, by increasing the efficiency of the vessels already operating in the fishery, or both. This tendency of input substitution or "capital stuffing", as it is referred to by Cunningham and Gréboval (2001), has been a major problem in fisheries management in general, and the tuna fisheries have not been immune to it. In the following paragraphs the various efforts of nations, international organizations and the private sector to manage tuna fisheries are discussed.
3.1 Governmental and intergovernmental arrangements
3.1.1 Early efforts by Japan to limit the number of longline vessels in its fleet
In an effort to stimulate economic growth after World War II, the Japanese government directed considerable effort toward developing its fisheries. High-seas tuna fleets were one of the primary targets for growth, and by the latter part of 1960 Japanese longline vessels fished throughout the oceans of the world. The fishery was profitable, and attracted increasing investment in vessel construction. The increasing number of vessels and the growing labor costs eventually began to erode the profitability of the fishery, so the Japanese government introduced programs to limit the number of Japanese vessels that could operate in the fishery. By limiting the number of longline vessels, catch rates and economic returns were kept high. However, because the tuna species targeted by the Japanese longline fleet are found throughout the oceans of the world, and because they constituted at that time a common property resource available to whomever could catch them, the action taken by the Japanese government was not successful in halting fleet growth. Japanese expertise and capital was invested in the construction and operation of longline vessels in nations that had placed no controls on fleet growth. This flow of capital stimulated the development of large fleets of longline vessels in the Taiwan Province of China and the Republic of Korea, and, more recently, China and Indonesia.
It became abundantly clear from the failure of the Japanese attempt to unilaterally resolve the problem of excess capacity that any effective program to limit fleet size and growth would have to involve all states with vessels participating in the fishery.
3.1.2 The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC)
In 1966 the IATTC adopted a catch quota limiting the harvest of yellowfin tuna in order to prevent the near-shore portion of the stock in the EPO from being driven to below the level of abundance at which it could support the AMSY. This event marked the first time that an international high-seas fishery had come under conservation controls. At the time the purse-seine fleet consisted of about 40 thousand tonnes of carrying capacity, and nearly all of it was under a single flag. The quota was structured in a manner that allowed catches to be taken on a "first-come, first-served" basis. The season for unrestricted yellowfin fishing commenced on January 1, and would be closed on a date at which the current catch, plus the expected catch to be taken by vessels that were at sea at closure, plus catches taken under special allocations, plus the expected catch to be taken incidentally when fishing for other species, equaled the catch quota.
The conservation program stimulated vessel owners to add capacity, rather than to reduce it. Because yellowfin abundance remained high as a result of the conservation quotas, catch rates remained high as well. Processors, faced with a limited supply of raw material, raised prices. Profitability for the vessel operators was high. This attracted new investment in vessels, and capacity continued to grow. As a result of the growth in capacity, the season for unrestricted fishing decreased from 10 months to less than 4 months as more and more vessels raced to catch as much as they could before the season for unrestricted fishing was closed. Pressure to increase catch quotas beyond the recommendations of the scientists mounted. Most of the catch was taken by a single nation, and the coastal states of the region complained that the first-come, first-served basis of the conservation program discriminated against them because they had smaller fleets of smaller boats and could not compete. This resulted in intense negotiations among the nations with interests in the fishery to allocate shares of the quota to coastal states. In some cases the shares assigned to the coastal states were sufficient to allow their vessels to continue fishing throughout the year. This marked a significant change in the way management of tuna resources was viewed.
Because of their highly-migratory nature, and the fact that at that time most nations subscribed to a narrow coastal jurisdiction, tuna were considered to belong to whomever could catch them. However, in the mid- and late-1970s most of the world had moved to or was moving toward extended jurisdictions. Because coastal states under this regime of extended jurisdiction controlled access to a significant, if not a major, share of the world's tuna resources, their position regarding special recognition in sharing of the resources was strengthened. By 1978 the purse-seine fleet in the EPO increased to about 192 thousand cubic metres of carrying capacity, an increase of 500 percent over that of 1961. Pressure from all sides for increased catch limits and increased allocations was so great that agreement could not be reached on implementation of a catch quota, which resulted in overfishing the stock of yellowfin. As yellowfin abundance declined, much of the fleet left the EPO to fish in other ocean areas or remained in port because catch rates were so low that vessels could not meet operating expenses. (This transfer of the fleet to other regions had a serendipitous affect on tuna production, because at that time tuna stocks in other ocean areas were mostly underexploited, and the developments by this transferred fleet led to new tuna supplies. However, the situation has now changed; there are no new frontiers for tuna production). This situation continued, and fishing effort in the EPO remained low until the mid-1980s, by which time yellowfin abundance had increased to above AMSY levels and vessels began to return to the fishery. In 1985 purse-seine carrying capacity was 138 thousand cubic metres, and catch rates and profits were high. The size of the fleet was in balance with the ability of the yellowfin stock to sustain current levels of catch, and there was no need to place restrictions on the harvest. This situation attracted more vessels, and the fleet has continued to grow.
Recognizing that the pattern of fleet growth was repeating that of the 1970s, in 1987 the Director of the IATTC began calling for measures to limit the number of vessels entering the fishery, but such efforts were mostly unsuccessful. The purse-seine fleet continued to grow, and this larger fleet resulted in increased fishing effort on yellowfin, requiring conservation limitations to be implemented so the stock would not be overfished. It also resulted in substantial increases in the catch of small bigeye tuna, resulting in measures to limit the fishing effort on small bigeye taken by the surface fishery. Until 1999 none of the conservation measures that were implemented resulted in limiting or halting the growth of the fleet. In fact, it seemed that the mere introduction of the idea of limiting capacity stimulated fleet growth. Those without fleets or with small fleets wanted to establish a larger presence in the fishery before they were prevented from doing so by the introduction of capacity-limitation measures.
By the end of 1998 the purse-seine fishery for tunas in the EPO was probably the most regulated tuna fishery in the world, and possibly one of the most regulated of any fishery. There were limits on the catch of yellowfin tuna and small bigeye, limits on the amount of fishing for tunas in association with floating objects, quotas on how many dolphins could be taken in the fishery for tuna associated with dolphins, restrictions on types of gear and fishing practices, requirements to carry observers, requirements to contribute monetarily to the observer program, and a host of other regulations. It was clear that such "micromanagement" of the fishery would likely result in failure to sustain a conservation program and failure to fulfill the objective of maintaining the populations at AMSY levels. Consequently the governments with an interest in the fishery decided to work through the IATTC to implement measures to put a halt to the growth in fleet, and eventually reduce it to more manageable levels. After a year of negotiations among the members of the IATTC and other interested governments, the first measures to limit purse-seine fleet capacity in the EPO fishery were implemented in 1999. The resolution defining the capacity-limitation program assigned purse-seine carrying capacity limits to each of the 13 nations involved in the fishery. Not all of the 13 nations were members of the IATTC, but all participated in the negotiations to assign limits.
During the negotiations several factors were taken into account in assigning limits. The most important was the level of catches taken by each of the 13 nations during 1985-1998. Other factors that were considered were the levels of catch taken within the EEZs of the nations bordering the EPO, the landings of tunas from the EPO in each of the participating countries, and the contribution of each country to the conservation program of the IATTC. For those countries that were participating in the fishery during 1985-1998, the allocations of fleet capacity were approximately identical to the actual fleets operating during 1998. In the case of one coastal state that did not have a fleet, but which had a longstanding and significant interest in the tuna fishery of the EPO, a capacity limit that would allow that nation to acquire a tuna fleet was assigned. There were several other coastal states participating in the negotiations that did not have tuna fleets at the time, but insisted that the agreement provide the opportunity for them to acquire fleets; such provision was made, thereby assuring that capacity limits could be assigned to those coastal states. The total limit set by the resolution for purse-seine vessels in the EPO for 1999 was 158 thousand tonnes of carrying capacity. The staff of the IATTC noted that a carrying capacity of purse-seine vessels of about 130 thousand tonnes was adequate to harvest the current catches of tuna. The actual carrying capacity operating at the end of 1998 was 138 thousand tonnes. By the end of 1999 carrying capacity reached 158 thousand tonnes. It was clear that there was a rush to bring new capacity into the fishery before regulations prohibiting new entries could be enacted. Unfortunately, it was not possible for the nations to agree to extend the resolution in its original form beyond 1999, and the result was continued fleet growth.
Negotiations to seek a solution to the excess capacity problem continued. Nearly all nations with tuna purse-seine vessels under their flags, and nearly all tuna boat operators, agreed that there was excess capacity in the tuna fishery of the EPO, and that measures were needed to halt the growth in capacity, and to even reduce it. However, agreement to limit capacity could not be reached among the member governments of IATTC, and capacity continued to grow. By the end of 2002, carrying capacity of the purse-seine fleet in the EPO reached 200 thousand cubic metres, the greatest in the history of the fishery.
In an effort to seek a solution to the problem, the IATTC established a working group to examine alternative means of limiting fishing capacity. Inspired by the FAO Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas, and on recommendation of the working group, the Commission approved a resolution in 2000 to establish and maintain a record of vessels authorized by their governments to fish in the IATTC convention area for species under the purview of the Commission. The resolution also called for the IATTC to maintain an inventory of the pertinent characteristics, and features for vessel identification, for each vessel on the Regional Vessel Register (RVR), as called for in the FAO compliance agreement. Once the RVR was established the working group recommended that fleet capacity be restricted to those vessels on the RVR. In June 2002 the Commission approved the Resolution on the Capacity of the Tuna Fleet Operating in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The Resolution 1) established the RVR as the definitive list of purse-seine vessels authorized by the participants to fish for tunas in the EPO, 2) noted that any purse-seine vessels fishing for tunas in the EPO that are not on the RVR would be considered to be undermining IATTC management measures, 3) indicated that only vessels flying the flags of participants could be entered on the RVR, 4) instructed that capacity would be measured as the volume of the fish wells, 5) prohibited the entry of vessels not included in the RVR to the purse-seine fleet operating in the EPO, except to replace vessels removed from the RVR, 6) made provision for five coastal states bordering the EPO to add vessels to the RVR with a total combined capacity not to exceed 20 thousand tonnes and 7) defined a participant as a member of the IATTC, and states, economic integration organizations and fishing entities that have applied for membership or that cooperate in the conservation programs of the Commission.
The concept encompassed in the RVR is that the capacity quotas are assigned to vessels, rather than to governments. The intent of this capacity limitation program is to fix the number of vessels that are authorized to fish in the EPO at current levels, although the special provisions for certain coastal states will allow it to grow by about 17 thousand tonnes. It is also the intent of the program to allow vessels on the list to be transferred to other flags, thereby allowing the flag to which the vessels transfers to increase its capacity by that of the transferred vessel, while requiring the flag from which the vessel was transferred to reduce its capacity by that amount. Although this provision for transfer is not abundantly clear in the Resolution, it was clarified in a document (IATTC, 2003b) presented by the Director of the IATTC: "The Secretariat's understanding of how the Resolution was intended to work with respect to transfers was to allow vessels on the Register to simply transfer flag from one participant to another. The participant the vessel was transferring from would not be able to replace the vessel, and there would be no restrictions on any participant being able to receive the transferring vessel".
With the implementation of the RVR, the IATTC has again taken the lead in attempting to introduce innovative and effective management measures for tunas. The RVR provides a mechanism for fixing the fleet of purse-seine vessels operating in the EPO at its current size, with an allowance for minimal expansion to fulfill the needs of several coastal states. An important feature of the arrangement is the provision for allowing vessels to transfer among the participants. Once a vessel is listed on the RVR it is authorized to fish in the convention waters. If a vessel is removed from the RVR by its flag state it can no longer fish in the area. As long as a vessel is on the RVR it can move from flag to flag. When a vessel transfers from the flag of one participant to that of another it stays on the RVR and its capacity "quota" is transferred with the vessel.
Similarly, if a vessel on the RVR is replaced, or its well capacity is increased, a vessel of equivalent size, or an amount of capacity equivalent to the increase in size, must be removed from the RVR. In a manner of speaking, the RVR creates a market for trading capacity. A vessel owner or a nation desirous of increasing its capacity can offer to purchase vessels listed on the RVR. When purchased, the vessel, which would remain on the RVR, along with its capacity quota, would go to the purchaser. Once the RVR was established through political negotiation, theoretically, any changes would result from market forces.
Since implementation of the RVR, the ownership of three vessels have transferred among participants. In each case the states from which the vessels had transferred expressed concern that they would not be able to replace the vessels that had been transferred. Obviously, if this feature of transferability were not retained in the RVR system, it would weaken considerably the effectiveness of the system. The result would be a limit on fleet size that was fixed among nations and could be not changed without difficult and time-consuming negotiations. The IATTC Permanent Working Group on Fleet Capacity will meet in the near future to discuss this issue, and hopefully it will be successful in convincing the participants to retain the transferability feature of the RVR.
3.1.3 The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)
ICCAT is responsible for the conservation and management of tunas, billfishes and tuna-like fishes in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas. Its first management measures were in the form of output controls, which were a minimum-size limit of 3.2 kg for yellowfin tuna in 1974, and a similar minimum-size limit for bigeye in 1980. The rationale for establishing the minimum size limit on yellowfin was to increase the yield per recruit, while the rationale for bigeye was primarily the fact that bigeye and yellowfin of less 3.2 kg are difficult to distinguish from one another.
Much of the concern over the status of the tuna stocks in the early years of ICCAT'S history was centered on bluefin tuna, which had been heavily exploited in the western Atlantic Ocean, resulting in declining catches. The first conservation measures adopted for bluefin were set in 1974, when a minimum size limit of 6.4 kg was established, and fleets were urged to reduce fishing mortality. Since that time more restrictions have been placed on bluefin, including closed areas and seasons and limits on catches. The catch in the western Atlantic has been set at less than 2.5 thousand tonnes over the last several years, and has been allocated to participants in the fishery. These bluefin regulations have had a potential impact on fishing capacity, in that allocating the catch among nations participating in the conservation program has provided an opportunity for those nations with allocations to limit the number of vessels authorized to fish under their flags. Not many participants have taken action to limit fleets, but the opportunity to do so exists.
Though swordfish is not one of the principal market species of tuna, the management measures taken by ICCAT for that species are pertinent to the discussions on managing tuna fishing capacity. In 1990 ICCAT expressed concern over the status of the swordfish stocks in the Atlantic, and recommended that fishing mortality should not exceed the levels of 1988. Management measures on swordfish were continued, and in 2003 quotas were set for both the northern and southern stocks and allocated among nations participating in the conservation program. Although no measures were taken for limiting capacity in the fishery, the fact that the allowable catches were allocated among participants provides an opportunity for the individual nations with allocations to limit the number and capacity of vessels operating under their allocations.
The first direct attempts to limit fishing capacity grew out of concern over the status of the northern albacore stock, which scientists estimated was being fished at unsustainable levels, and the stock of bigeye tuna, which was being harvested at increasingly earlier ages and in increasing amounts. In 1998 ICCAT approved a resolution calling on fishing nations to limit the sizes of their fleets fishing for northern albacore to 1993-1995 levels. During the same year ICCAT approved another resolution calling on nations to limit the numbers of their vessels greater than 24 metres in length fishing for bigeye tuna to 1991-1992 levels. Even though the limitations called for in the resolutions apply to the number of vessels, the numbers were to be coupled with a limitation on GRT so as to not increase total capacity. Subsequently a total allowable catch (TAC) of 34.5 thousand tonnes, allocated among the nations participating in the program, was set for northern albacore. Additional recommendations were made for bigeye, calling on participants to limit the catches made by their fleets in 2004 to the levels of their catches in 2001. Specific limitations on the catches and numbers of vessels that could operate in the bigeye fishery were placed on several, but not all, nations with fleets fishing for bigeye in the Atlantic Ocean. China was assigned a catch allocation of 5 thousand tonnes and a fleet limit of 60 vessels, the Taiwan Province of China 16.5 thousand tonnes and 125 vessels and the Philippines 2.1 thousand tonnes and 5 vessels. In order to have available information with which to monitor and ensure compliance with the resolutions, each participant was required to provide a list of vessels that operated under its flag in the northern albacore fishery in 1993-1995, and each year thereafter, and in the bigeye fishery in 1991-1992, and each year thereafter.
Both of the initiatives by ICCAT to address the problem of unsustainable exploitation of northern albacore and bigeye provided the basis for the nations participating in the fishery to manage these resources in an effective manner. By setting a TAC for each of these species, and allocating that TAC among the participants in the fishery, there is an opportunity for each nation to regulate the number of vessels authorized to fish under its country allocation. Unfortunately, hardly any of the participating nations with assigned country allocations have limited their fleets. The fleets can continue to grow, and as they grow their owners will tend to put pressure on their governments to negotiate for increasingly greater TACs and country allocations. Past experience has shown that this kind of behavior results in the failure of conservation controls.
The requirement for nations to limit the number of vessels operating in the fishery to prior levels will work only if the nations are willing to implement the controls necessary to limit the sizes of their fleets. In the reports of the ICCAT Conservation and Management Measures Compliance Committee (ICCAT, 2001) most of the participating nations did not provide the baseline data to establish fleet size in 1991-1992 and 1993-1995, nor did they subsequently provide annual vessel lists for those fleets. Thus, even though mechanisms are in place to limit fleet size, it is impossible to know if the requirements are being complied with currently, or how effective they will be in the future.
3.1.4 The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)
Although IOTC has a much shorter history than the IATTC or ICCAT, it has undertaken several measures that have had an impact on the problem of fishing capacity. The earliest efforts were a recognition by its members that fleet capacity in the Indian Ocean was likely to be in excess of what was needed to harvest the current catch, and that measures should be considered for limiting capacity. Accordingly, the Scientific Committee of IOTC was asked to make recommendations on the best estimate of the optimum capacity of the fishing fleet that would permit the sustainable exploitation of tropical tunas. Due to a lack of technical information at the time, the Committee was not able to make such recommendations. However, measures are being instituted to acquire the information necessary for the Scientific Committee to estimate the optimum capacity of the fishing fleet for the Indian Ocean tuna fishery.
In response to the FAO International Plan of Action to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IPOA-IUU), and in an effort to initiate the preliminary steps of limiting fishing capacity, the IOTC approved measures to establish and maintain a Record of Authorized Vessels (RAV) of greater than 24 metres in overall length authorized to fish in the Indian Ocean. Nations participating in the agreement can add or remove vessels to or from the RAV, so that the RAV itself does not limit the number of vessels authorized to fish. However, any vessel not on the list would be considered to be engaged in illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. Measures were also approved requesting the nations participating in the agreement to undertake certain actions, such as closing ports to and limiting imports from vessels involved in IUU fishing and not granting registration to vessels that had been involved in IUU fishing unless the ownership of the vessel had changed. These measures taken together would tend to reduce the number of vessels operating in the fishery because it would make it more difficult for an IUU vessel to operate profitably. However, the methods do not, in themselves, result in a reduction of the number of vessels authorized to fish in the Indian Ocean.
The IOTC took more direct action during its meetings in 2003 to initiate the process of limiting capacity. A resolution was approved that requires each nation with more than 50 vessels on the RAV to limit the number of its fishing vessels more than 24 metres in overall length to the number registered in the RAV in 2003. Although the resolution makes exceptions for some nations with fleets under development, and cautions that the measures taken could cause some nations to strive to bring their fleet capacities up to the 50-vessel guideline, resulting in an increase in capacity, approval of the resolution is a significant move in the right direction.
3.1.5 The Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT)
The CCSBT is different from the other regional tuna bodies in that it is concerned with only one species, southern bluefin tuna, and in that its area of concern is wherever this species occurs. When the CCSBT was formed its three members, Australia, Japan and New Zealand, were the only nations fishing for southern bluefin on a significant scale. A TAC of 12 thousand tonnes was implemented, and allocated among the three members. This provided the opportunity for the three nations to place controls on their vessels fishing for bluefin under the country allocations. Japan placed restrictions on the number of longline vessels that could participate in harvesting the allocation. Australia implemented an individual transferable quota (ITQ) system in which its share of the overall quota was partitioned among various Australian fishing companies, mostly those involved in bluefin ranching. The companies control the number of vessels involved in harvesting Australia's share, and, because the industry seems to be limiting the number of vessels to reasonable levels, the Australian government has not considered it necessary to place overall limits on the number of vessels that can operate. Over the last few years the number of nations fishing for southern bluefin has increased. The Republic of Korea and Indonesia have joined the CCSBT, and the five members share a TAC of 14 thousand tonnes. An additional quota of 900 tonnes has been set aside for non-member states fishing for southern bluefin tuna.
In an attempt to stem the growing fleet size and increasing fishing pressure on southern bluefin, and in keeping with the intent of the IPOA-IUU, the CCSBT has taken action to create a record of vessels greater than 24 metres in length authorized to fish for southern bluefin tuna. The CCSBT considers any vessel that is not on the record and is fishing for southern bluefin to be engaged in IUU fishing. CCSBT members are urged to take certain actions against such IUU vessels in an attempt to correct the problem. The first action called for is to seek cooperation of the flag state of the IUU vessel in addressing the problem. If such approaches fail, then the members are urged to undertake more severe measures, including trade restrictions.
The impact of all these actions by CCSBT should serve to mitigate somewhat the problem of actual or potential excess capacity in the southern bluefin fishery. However, it is difficult to determine precisely how effective these measures are.
3.1.6 The western and central Pacific Ocean
The largest tuna fishery in the world takes place in the western Pacific Ocean. Nearly 50 percent of the world catches of the principal market species of tunas come from that area, and the single largest purse-seine fishery is prosecuted there. Not only is the fishery the largest in the world, but the characteristics of the fishery are quite different from tuna fisheries in most other ocean areas. Most notably, in the EPO slightly more than half the catch is made on the high seas. In the western and central Pacific less than 20 percent of the catch is made on the high seas, so the coastal and island states control access to almost all of the catch in the region. This potentially has a large impact on how management arrangements can and will be formulated. Nevertheless, the tuna resources are highly migratory, and the principles defined in Article 64 of LOSC and the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks ("the UN Fish Stock Agreement") apply with respect to cooperation among nations and management requirements that apply throughout the migratory range of the species. An Article 64-type regional tuna body for the western and central Pacific Ocean, the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention, WCPFC), has recently been established. This convention, which mandates the establishment of an Article 64-type regional tuna body for the western and central Pacific, has been signed and ratified; it entered into effect on 19 June 2004, and an inaugural session of the commission will be held on 6 December 2004. Although the new organization has not yet begun its formal work, the convention is responsive to the need for controlling fleet size when necessary. Article 5(a) of the convention states that the new Commission shall "take measures to prevent or eliminate... excess fishing capacity", Article 10(g) states that the Commission shall develop "criteria for the allocation of the total allowable catch or the total level of fishing effort", and Article 10, 2© states that the Commission may adopt measures for "limitations of fishing capacity". During one of the planning sessions for the establishment of the new commission the governments represented at the meeting agreed that "all States and other entities concerned to exercise reasonable restraint in respect of any regional expansion of fishing effort and capacity". It is clear that the new convention provides the legal authority for the organization to deal with the problem of excess fishing capacity, but how that will be dealt with is not yet formulated. However, there are currently several organizations and political arrangements that are working to develop measures to address the problem of fishing capacity in the western and central Pacific region.
The Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) was created in 1979 by the 16 member countries of the South Pacific Forum to help them manage and develop their living marine resources, particularly the stocks of tunas inhabiting the western and central Pacific Ocean. Much of the activity of the FFA was directed toward assisting the 16 countries to develop access arrangements with distant-water fishing nations (DWFNs), and developing monitoring and enforcement capabilities. The FFA maintains a register of vessels that are eligible to apply for access licences for fishing in the EEZs of FFA members. Any vessel that has been found to be engaged in IUU fishing with respect to the EEZ of any FFA member country is blacklisted, and cannot obtain an access agreement. This move has tended to reduce IUU fishing and associated excess capacity.
The Palau Arrangement for the western and central Pacific purse-seine fishery, which was concluded in 1992, has the objective of limiting the level of purse-seine fishing in the region. The Arrangement provides for an overall limit of 205 purse-seine vessels that will be licensed by the parties for fishing in their waters. Of the 16 FFA members, eight are members of the Palau Arrangement. The majority of the catch of tunas from the area is taken in the waters of these eight members.
The countries that are members of the Palau Arrangement are in the process of examining a long-term management system based on national limits on the numbers of allowable purse-seine days fished. The Ocean Fisheries Programme (OFP) of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), along with the FFA, will provide technical information and advice to the Palau Arrangement countries in order to assist them in developing the management system. The system being discussed contemplates setting a total number of allowable fishing days for the combined EEZs of the parties to the Arrangement. It appears that this level of allowable effort will be set to ensure sustainable harvests of the stocks of tunas inhabiting the area. It also appears that the total allowable number of fishing days will be allocated among the coastal states that are parties to the Arrangement. It is likely that these allocations will be made in proportion to the abundance of the resource in the respective EEZs and/or the levels of harvest made in those zones. Each country will then be able to license vessels to utilize the fishing days allocated to its EEZ. At this juncture in the discussions of the proposed system there is no information available as to whether the number of vessels that can purchase licences to fish in the respective EEZs will be limited. However, the Palau Arrangement members have agreed to a combined limit of 205 vessels for all of the Palau Arrangement members. It should be kept in mind that the limit is expressed in numbers of vessels, rather than in capacity. It is possible that smaller vessels would be replaced with larger ones, resulting in an increase in fishing capacity. As scientists of the OFP have made abundantly clear, the efficiencies of various sizes and types of fishing vessels can vary considerably, so some means of standardizing the fishing effort, possibly in number of "standard" days, will be necessary. It will also be necessary to monitor efficiency changes over time because of "capital stuffing", since as soon as restrictions are adopted vessels owners will try to compensate for these by increasing the efficiencies of their vessels. If the parties to the Arrangement balance the number of vessels, taking into account the efficiencies of the vessels that they license and the number of fishing days allocated to each, any excess capacity problems would be ameliorated. However, there would have to be close cooperation among the countries in establishing this balance, as vessels may seek to purchase licences for more than one EEZ since tunas are migratory, and aren't always available in the same EEZs. The matter of subsidized vessels would also have to be considered in any system that might be developed if that system is to be effective. A vessel with subsidies would be able to fish at lower levels of catch and economic return than an unsubsidized vessel, which would tend to result in more vessels seeking licences than if there were no subsidies. Also, the area of the western and central Pacific that lies outside of any EEZ would have to be considered in any scheme for controlling fishing effort and capacity. Once the new commission is operating it will deal with the issue of controls on the high seas, but there will have to be coordination with what the coastal states are doing by way of licensing within their EEZs.
This system being considered by the Palau Arrangement countries is unique and innovative, and it holds great potential for ameliorating the capacity problem. However, the problem of excess capacity could be dealt with more directly and effectively if vessel limits were included in the allocations of total allowable fishing days. Additionally, there must be limitation of vessels other than purse seiners, particularly longline and pole-and-line vessels, which account for about 30 percent of the catch of tunas from the region. Although there are far more longline vessels than purse seiners operating in the western and central Pacific (Miyake, this collection), the same mechanisms for controlling the capacity of purse seiners can be applied to longliners.
3.2 Industry arrangements
In response to decreasing catch rates in the world longline fishery and declining ex-vessel prices in the global purse-seine fishery there have been two industry organizations created over the last few years that deal with the issue of fishing capacities of longline and purse-seine vessels.
3.2.1 The world longline fleet and the Organization for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fishing (OPRT)
Two major factors have impacted the profitability of the longline industry. One is the high demand and high value placed on tunas and billfishes in the sashimi market, which has caused the number of longline vessels to increase and the catch per vessel to decline. The other is the development of fish-aggregating devices (FADs), which have increased the catches of small bigeye and yellowfin. The increased catches of small bigeye have decreased the recruitment of large bigeye to the longline fishery, resulting in declining catches of this species. As bigeye are the primary target of the longline fishery, this situation has caused a great deal of concern for the industry. Because of this concern, and in keeping with the IPOA-CAPACITY, the Japanese longline industry has undertaken action to reduce the size of its large-scale, ultra-deep-freezing, tuna longline fleet by approximately 20 percent. Because there are large longline fleets fishing under the flags of several other nations, the Japanese industry has undertaken measures to enlist the cooperation of many of those fleets in an overall program to reduce fishing capacity of the world's longline fleet. Japan has targeted 130 vessels for removal from its fleet, and the Taiwan Province of China has agreed to limit its fleet to 600 vessels. The Taiwan Province of China will require that Taiwainese-owned vessels under flags of convenience be transferred to its registry. To stay within its 600-vessel limit, some of the recalled vessels will be "bought back" and scrapped, as will the 130 Japanese vessels. The scheme has a good chance to succeed because Japan is the primary market for sashimi fish, and the Japanese government has undertaken to prohibit the importation of tuna from vessels that might, by their actions, diminish the effectiveness of programs to conserve and manage tuna resources, including the efforts to control fishing capacity. Thus a vessel that ignored these restrictions would find it difficult to fish profitably.
The OPRT was originally established between the Federation of Japan Tuna Fisheries Cooperative Association, which represents all Japanese high-seas longline vessels, and a similar industry organization representing the Taiwanese longline fleet. Its objectives are to track tuna coming into the Japanese market to ensure that it is from cooperating nations, to monitor the removal and scrapping of vessels, and to assist in the reimbursement of Japanese and Taiwanese fishermen for the costs of removing their vessels from the fleet. Since the founding of OPRT, longline fleets of Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China and the Philippines have joined it. So far about 43 Japanese and Taiwanese flag of convenience (FOC) longline vessels have been bought back and scrapped by the Japanese and Taiwanese longline industries. Moneys were loaned to the industry groups by the Japanese government on a 20-year pay-back schedule.
This Japanese initiative to reduce the number of large-scale tuna longline vessels can be a useful means of controlling excess fishing capacity and contributing to better conservation of the tuna resources important to the longline fishery. However, two other important factors must be considered. First, there must be effective measures to resolve the excess capacity problem in the surface fisheries, which, because of increasingly greater catches of small bigeye, are having a serious impact on the abundance of large bigeye available to the longline fleets. Second, there are growing fleets of small and medium-sized longline vessels that fish mostly in inshore regions, particularly in many developing coastal states. These fleets are taking increasingly greater quantities of tunas, so there will be an increasing need to include these fleets in any programs to limit capacity in the world longline fleet. Until these problems are dealt with, there cannot be effective tuna management.
3.2.2 The World Tuna Purse-seine Organization (WTPO)
The number of large purse-seine vessels has been steadily increasing over the last several decades, and now comprises about 570 vessels with a total carrying capacity of nearly 600 thousand tonnes. Additionally, the individual vessels have increased their efficiency in catching tunas. This increase in fishing power has been the result of many factors, including better vessel design, the use of sophisticated electronic equipment, and the development of FADs. With this tremendous potential to catch fish, particularly when skipjack are abundant, catches increase sharply. These increases in production tend to outstrip demand, causing ex-vessel prices to decline. Conversely, when skipjack abundance is average or below average, there is more purse-seine capacity than needed to take the available fish. Since 1998 there have been abundant supplies of skipjack, and the catches have exceeded the demand, resulting in prices at the lowest levels observed over the last several decades. This has caused serious economic problems in the purse-seine industry and stimulated efforts by the vessel owners to do something to bring supply into balance with demand. In 1999 several industry organizations representing purse-seine vessels formed the World Tuna Purse-seine Organization (WTPO) to address this problem. The WTPO has attempted to treat the problem of overproduction in two ways. First, the members have agreed to reduce the level of fishing effort by requiring vessels to spend more time in port between trips. The target scheduled was for vessels of less than 1300 tonnes, 1300 to 1700 tonnes and more than 1700 tonnes of carrying capacity to spend a minimum of eight, nine or ten days in port, respectively, between trips. Second, the members have called for a limit on fleet growth. Industry organizations representing purse-seine vessels from about ten countries now belong to the WTPO, but there are several large fleets that are not members.
Although many vessels have followed the recommendations of the WTPO regarding the length of time between trips, many others have not; so it is difficult to tell whether this has had an impact on price. It has not had an impact on excess capacity, as new purse-seine vessels continue to enter the fishery. Regarding limiting capacity, the organization has called for the establishment of a world purse-seine and longline vessel register, which would include only vessels authorized by their governments. New vessels could enter the register only as replacements for vessels of an equal size removed from the register. So far, such a world register has not been implemented. Nevertheless, industry initiatives provide a number of possibilities for addressing the problems created by excess capacity in the world tuna fleet, some of which are discussed by Joseph (2003).
 In terms of an input
indicator such as potential fishing days, excess capacity exists when the actual
days fished by a fleet are less than the potential days fishing that that same
fleet is capable of generating if fully utilized.|
 The principal market species of tuna are: skipjack (Katsuwonuspelamis), yellowfin (Thunnus albacares), bigeye (T. obesus), albacore (T. alalunga), Atlantic bluefin (T. thynnus), Pacific bluefin (T. orientalis) and southern bluefin (T. maccoyii).