Policies and rules govern how tuna is caught

Conservation and management measures (CMMs) describe binding decisions on how the tuna fisheries of the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) are managed. They include rules on how tuna may be caught and how the catch is measured. CMMs are agreed on by the members and cooperating non-members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) at its annual meeting. These two groups and a third, participating territories, are known collectively as CCMs. Among the members are the 14 small island developing states (SIDS) of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

WCPFC maintains updates to the CMMs.

CMMs direct the SIDS and other members policies and rules for managing tuna fisheries, including sustaining fish stocks.

Fishing methods

2009-02, The application of FAD closures and catch retention on the high seas
FAD closures
  • Defines a fish-aggregating device (FAD) as any object or group of objects, whether in use or not, floating on or near the surface of the water that fish may congregate around. Examples are buoys, floats, netting, webbing, plastics, bamboo, logs, and whale sharks.
  • During the period when FAD use is prohibited, no purse-seine vessel, or any of its fishing gear or tenders, may operate within one nautical mile of a FAD
  • The operator of a vessel will not use the vessel to aggregate fish, or to move aggregated fish. This includes prohibition of the use of underwater lights and churning.
  • Vessels shall not operate together to catch aggregated fish
  • FADs cannot be retrieved during the closure unless:
    the FAD (or associated equipment) is kept on board the vessel until it lands, or until the closure ends; and
    the vessel does not set lines or nets for 7 days or within a 80-km (50-mile) radius of the point where the FAD was retrieved

Read the CMM


2009-02, The application of FAD closures and catch retention on the high seas
Catch retention
  • During fishing, any fish being released because it is unsuitable must only be released before the net is fully pursed and half the net has been retrieved
  • Fish that are unfit for human consumption are those that have been enmeshed or crushed in the purse-seine net, damaged by sharks or whales, or have died and spoiled in the net. This rule excludes fish that are considered unmarketable, or that have spoiled or become contaminated because of an act or omission by the crew.
  • If there isnt enough space on board for all fish caught during the final set of a trip, the fish may only be discarded if they are alive and released promptly, and no further fishing occurs
  • Fish cannot be discarded until an observer has estimated the species composition
  • Vessel operators need to report all details of discarded fish within 48 hours to WCPFCs executive director and the  WCPFC observer on board
2008-04, Prohibit the use of large-scale driftnets on the high seas in the convention area
  • These points refer to the high seas inside the area covered by the convention
  • Using large driftnets is prohibited. These are gillnets or other nets, or a combination of nets, that are more than 2.5 km long and are used to trap, enmesh or entangle fish by drifting on or in the water.
  • Fishing vessels are not to be configured to use large driftnets, or to own these kinds of nets. Any that do will be deemed to have used them.
  • Some fishing vessels inside the convention area may be authorised to use large driftnets in waters under national jurisdiction. These vessels may carry driftnets and related fishing equipment on the high seas in the convention area, but they must be stowed or secured so that they cannot be used for fishing.
  • Countries will report annually on their monitoring, control and surveillance actions.

Read the CMM


Catch and harvest strategy, data collection, and reporting

2014-06, Establishing a harvest strategy for key fisheries and stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean
  • Harvest strategies are to be developed for review in 2017 in response to continued fishing of tuna stocks beyond sustainable yields, and in response to UN commitments
  • Harvest strategies are to cover these tuna species: skipjack, bigeye, yellowfin, South Pacific albacore, Pacific bluefin, and northern albacore
  • Harvest strategies are to include monitoring and evaluating for effectiveness

Read the CMM


2013-05, Daily catch and effort reporting
  • An accurate log must be kept of every day spent on the high seas in the convention area.
  • Consistent reporting frameworks are to be used
  • The measure sets out the minimum data to be recorded, and when
  • The master of the vessel is to provide an accurate, unaltered report within 15 days of the end of the trip or transhipment, and keep a copy on board the ship during a trip

Read the CMM


2009-10, Monitor landings of purse-seiners at ports so as to ensure reliable catch data by species
  • Ensure accurate reporting on catch size and composition, particularly of bigeye tuna
  • Work with non-members to get data on the species caught and size of fish caught in the convention area

Read the CMM


Unloading and sorting tuna at Noro, Solomon Islands. Harvest strategies are to be developed as fishing for tuna in the WCPO continues to be beyond sustainable yields. Photo: Francisco Blaha.

Extra rules apply in PNA waters

Article 4 of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (signed in 1982 and amended in 2010) states that the eight member states need to establish particular procedures and administrative arrangements for catching and harvesting tuna and other stocks in PNA waters. These cover the exchange and analysis of:

  • statistical data about the catch and effort of fishing vessels in the fisheries zones
  • information about vessels and fleets.