Increase in Fishing Quotas Tuna: for Whose Benefit?

Nowadays, when states negotiate their quotas for bluefin tuna in the Atlantic and Pacific, they leave It is generally assumed that the larger the quantities fished, the better the sector will be. Now, a new increase in world production may result in lower revenues.
In this case, those who both species of bluefin tuna will earn lower profits despite an increase in quantities fished.
In addition, an oversupply also affects fishers of related fish, such as southern bluefin tuna or bigeye tuna. While the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) will determine
quotas for Atlantic bluefin tuna in November, a new study conducted with the support of The Pew Charitable Trusts and The Ocean Foundation demonstrates that maintaining reasonable quotas for eastern bluefin tuna
is generally a better strategy for the fisheries sector and associated sectors than to flood the market of fish.

Bluefin tuna market: global trends

At the global level, bluefin tuna landings have fluctuated significantly over time. Thus, the catches of the three species of bluefin tuna (South, Atlantic, and Pacific) peaked in 1961 at 143 000 metric tonnes per year; in 1990, they fell by more than 65% from this record. The growth of tuna aquaculture red in the Mediterranean has led to an increase in landings of eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna, reversing the trend observed for total catches of these species in the mid-1990s.

Nevertheless, bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean have not withstood this intensive fishery and have quickly overfished. Managers have not changed their quotas based on recommendations
scientists before 2010 when total landings of bluefin tuna in the world returned to While stocks of eastern bluefin tuna appear to be recovering, quotas have been raised by around 20% year between 2014 and 2017 (an increase of 75% over three years). The increase in supply observed over the past few years has been accompanied by a fall in bluefin tuna prices.
With the increase in eastern bluefin tuna populations, the fishing industry is demanding that quotas be raised at 36,000 tonnes an additional increase of 52% over the current limit, raising the issue of consequences that these quotas could have on prices.


Led by Chin-Hwa Jenny Sun of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Fu-Sung Chiang of the National Taiwan Ocean University and Dale Squires of the University of California (San Diego), this study aims to answer three questions: was the impact of the recent increase in catches of eastern bluefin tuna on the price of Atlantic bluefin tuna and its substitutes? 4 Would a further increase in quotas for eastern bluefin tuna benefit the fisheries sector? peach? Who would benefit from the increase in supply and who would penalize?
Researchers modeled the effects of an evolution of the global supply of bluefin tuna on the prices of five products that most of the bluefin tuna market: fresh bluefin tuna from the Atlantic and Pacific caught by Japanese fishermen; fresh Atlantic Atlantic and Pacific bluefin tuna imported into Japan; Atlantic bluefin tuna and frozen Pacific seafood imported into Japan; fresh and frozen southern bluefin tuna; and fresh bigeye tuna. They then determined whether an increase in the global supply of these products would have positive or negative consequences for fishermen. Since world tuna prices are mainly indexed in the Japanese market, the prices applied in Tsukiji market, Japan’s largest fish market, served as a benchmark to determine tuna prices on a global scale.
Finally, the authors noted that these products are close substitutes in the Japanese market; this is why the model developed must take into account the price impact of changes in the overall supply. Indeed, study the supply for a single species of tuna or examine the different products in isolation would underestimate the effects that each product has on prices.


The analysis showed that all things considered, the price of bluefin tuna and bigeye falls in proportion to the increase in global supply. In addition, the fall in prices observed varies according to sources or species of tuna. For three of the five products under study, prices are falling faster than the global offer does not increase. This means that the incomes of fishermen who supply these products are falling even if landings increase. This problem is all the more worrying for the Western Atlantic bluefin tuna fishermen, whose quotas have remained stable while the quotas Eastern bluefin tuna increased by 20% in 2016 and 2017. The same goes for bluefin tuna Pacific, whose quotas have declined during this time.
On the other hand, the markets for frozen Atlantic bluefin tuna and fresh and frozen southern bluefin tuna should not be affected by an overall increase in supply. Nevertheless, several factors are likely to prevent a fisherman from taking advantage of this favorable context. Indeed, unless we have allocated quotas individually, for example, fishermen marketing these products are not assured that they can increase their catches, even if their fishing quotas are increased. Moreover, if the quotas remain unchanged, as was the case for southern bluefin tuna in 2016 and 2017, the fishermen can simply face lower prices because of their inability to increase their catches while global supply is increasing elsewhere in the world.
The researchers applied the results of their work and examined the price impact of the strong increase in the supply of bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean between 2014 and 2017. Then, they anticipated the consequences of a further increase in quotas for eastern bluefin tuna to 30,000 or 40,000 tonnes in the next management cycle (ie three years to the end of 2020).
They predict that fresh bigeye tuna fishers will be hit hardest around 2020 because this increase in quotas could lead to prices falling by more than 65%. Similarly, for numerous products and species, an increase to 40 000 tonnes of eastern bluefin tuna could lead to at least a 50% decrease in prices by 2020.


This study shows that increasing Eastern bluefin tuna quotas does not serve the economic interests of most bluefin tuna fishermen and would have a negative impact on the bluefin tuna and bigeye tuna around the world. Stabilization of catches of bluefin tuna would not only benefit the majority of fishermen: this would also be a less risky approach to population management of tuna.

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