FAO Home>Fisheries & Aquaculture
FAO of the UN
A large tuna is landed by fishermen working together
A large tuna is landed by fishermen working together
Courtesy of Jose Cort
FAO supplements activities of tuna fishery bodies, other regional international and national institutions involved in tuna fisheries research, management and trade of these species. Because of their regional and national competence, FAO plays a global role in:
• the collation, analysis, synthesis and dissemination of data and other information on the species and
• the resolution of global problems in fisheries research and management.

As a result, the data and other information on the tuna taxonomy, ecology, fisheries, farming, catches, stock status and fisheries management have been collated on the global scale, analysed and synthesized. They are disseminated to fisheries scientists, managers, fishing and processing industry, governments, other international organizations and the public at large.

Global tuna data and other information

FAO has been active particularly the collation, analysis, synthesis and dissemination of:
• data on tuna catches and
• information on tuna fisheries research, the status of the associated stocks, fisheries, markets, trade and fisheries management.

The top two data sets listed below are specifically for tuna and in the case of the 2nd data set, also for some billfishes. They contain data obtained mostly from the tuna Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). The last data set presents mostly official national statistics for all fish species including tuna and billfishes.

FAO fishery bodies

One of the tuna fishery bodies (Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)) has been created and operates within the framework of FAO. Another FAO fishery body (General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)) dealing with all marine resources in the Mediterranean Sea is active also in the management of tuna and tuna-like species in that Sea.

Resolution of global problems in tuna fisheries research and management

Many problems in tuna fisheries research and management are in the global scale. Therefore, it is more efficient and effective to deal with them on that scale, while the tuna fishery bodies have a regional scope. In addition to its global role, FAO provides a multi-disciplinary context involving all marine and island fish species for the consideration and resolution of tuna problems. One example of global cooperation and FAO’s contribution to global tuna fisheries management is the conclusion of the UN Stock Agreement to which FAO significantly contributed technically. The Agreement and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (formulated within the framework of FAO) pose new requirements for conservation, fisheries management, technology and research for tuna and tuna-like species.

More recently, FAO has provided a technical support for the 1st Joint Meeting of Tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, which was held in Kyoto, Japan in 22 to 26 January 2007, which was organized to exchange information and discuss problems of mutual interest among them.

For further information, see:

Precautionary Approach and Tuna Research: Perspective from the 1995 UN Agreement, [Majkowski. j. 1998. In Cayré, P. & Le Gall, J.-Y., 1998. Le thon: enjeux et stratégies pour l'océan Indien/Tuna prospects and strategies for the Indian Ocean. In Proceedings of the International Tuna Conference 1996, 27–29 November 1996, Maurice. COI/Orstom, Paris, collection Colloques et Séminaires, 433–60p.].

Hauling the purse seine.The tuna is still in the water, trapped in the purse tied up in the bottom; the crew removes the by-catch from the net before hauling the tuna onboard.
Hauling the purse seine.
Courtesy of Fadio/IRD-IFREMER/M. Taquet

FAO projects

In March 2000, FAO co-organized and co-financed, jointly with most tuna fishery bodies and some other institutions, a global Expert Consultation on Implications of the Precautionary Approach for Tuna Biological and Technological Research in Thailand. The precautionary approach is incorporated in the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and in the Code. It may affect the exploitation of tuna and tuna-like species by calling on states to be more cautious where information is uncertain, unreliable or inadequate.

Bio-economic interactions among fisheries need to be scientifically addressed for the resolution of fisheries management problems. Effort in this direction in collaboration with tuna fishery bodies and other institutions was initiated by FAO and implemented by its Japan-financed project on that subject. It initially concentrated its activities in the Pacific, extending them to other oceans later on.

For many tuna fishing fleets, there is insufficient control of their capacity, fishing effort and catches. Recently, concerns have emerged on over-capacity of tuna fleets. As a result, FAO formulated and implemented a multi-disciplinary project financed by Japan on the management of tuna fishing capacity. That project was carried out in collaboration with the tuna fishery bodies and other international organizations involved in tuna fishing, fisheries research and management. Its objectives were (i) to provide technical information on and (ii) to identify, consider and resolve technical problems associated with the management of tuna fishing capacity on the global scale, taking into account conservation and socio-economic issues. At present, with the completion of the project, the management of tuna fishing capacity is continued to be addressed by tuna fishery bodies and other fisheries institutions.

For further information, see:

Using stock assessment information to assess fishing capacity of tuna fisheries
Haritz Arrizabalaga; Victor R. Restrepo; Mark N. Maunder; Jacek Majkowski
2009; doi: 10.1093/icesjms/fsp165

Powered by FIGIS