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The author thanks the FAO Fisheries Department for financing this publication and the reported study. He is particularly grateful to Dr Jacek Majkowski, Fishery Resources Officer, Marine Resources Service of that Department for organizing it and for his assistance and to Ms Anne Van Lierde of that Department for formatting this document for its publication.

The author also thanks Dr William Bayliff of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and Dr Dale Squires of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for reviewing this manuscript. He also thanks Dr Squires for his contribution to the Data Envelopment Analysis presented in this report. He is grateful to Dr Michael Hinton and Mr Patrick Tomlinson of IATTC for providing data on the fishery in the eastern Pacific Ocean and to Dr Gary D. Sharp for environmental data. Thanks are also extended to Dr Alejandro Anganuzzi of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), Dr Tony Lewis of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and Mr Papa Kebe of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) for providing valuable data on purse-seine vessels fishing in their respective regions. Finally, the author’s deepest gratitude is extended to the tuna industries of France, Japan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Province of China, and the United States of America for providing valuable information on their purse-seine fleets.

James Joseph

2790 Palomino Circle

La Jolla, CA, 97037

United States of America

[email protected]


FAO Fisheries Department

FAO Regional and Subregional Fishery Officers

Directors of Fisheries

Joseph, J.

Managing fishing capacity of the world tuna fleet.

FAO Fisheries Cicular. No. 982. Rome, FAO. 2003. 67p.


The catch of skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye, albacore and bluefin tuna accounts for about five percent of the world production of marine fish, but it represents a much higher proportion of the total value of the catch. With the exception of skipjack, most stocks of tuna are nearly fully exploited or overexploited. As the number and efficiency of vessels that harvest tuna increases, there is a growing concern on the part of nations and international tuna bodies that it will become increasingly difficult to implement and sustain effective conservation measures for tunas. As a consequence, most of the tuna bodies have initiated steps to evaluate the needs and means of limiting the capacity of the vessels in the fisheries with which they are concerned. Because of severe economic problems associated with excess fishing capacity, the fishing industry has initiated its own programmes to limit the capacity for purse-seine and longline fleets. Reasonably good catch statistics for tuna are available for most fisheries, but corresponding information on the numbers and characteristics of tuna vessels is frequently not. For one of the areas where information is available (the eastern Pacific) results of Data Envelopment Analysis suggest that the fleet of purse-seine vessels in the area could be reduced significantly without a corresponding reduction in the catch. So far, there has been very limited action taken by the fishery bodies to control the fishing capacity. The tuna fishery bodies must work together, and with FAO to resolve the problem of tuna fishing capacity. They also need to address the issues related to common property resources and property-rights based management, the allocation of catches and fleet capacities among participants, the rights of access on the high seas, the authority for regional tuna organizations to deal with some of these matters.

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