Fishery Improvement Projects

Nachi Katsuura Albacore Longline FIP

Overview

By volume Nachi Katsuura is one of the most significant ports for longline tuna production in Japan, accounting for the largest landings of fresh tuna in Japan. On an annual basis, roughly 430 Japanese long line vessels catch ~10,000 metric tons of albacore, much of which passes through Nachi Katsuura port in the Wakayama Prefecture.

The Nachi Katsuura Albacore Longline FIP involves No. 78 Kaiou Maru, an offshore longline harvester that offloads at Nachi Katsuura port and Yamasa Wakiguchi Co., a regional tuna wholesaler. Yamasa Wakiguchi Co., the FIP client, sourced approximately 590 metric tons of albacore tuna from offshore longline fisheries in 2017-2018, including tuna caught by No. 78 Kaiou Maru.

Wakiguchi-san, who founded and runs the wholesale company, is a leading seafood businessman, a strong advocate for sustainable fishing practices, and a primary driver of the flourishing Nachi Katsurra tuna industry. His company was the first in the region to develop and make public a procurement policy advocating for tuna sustainability, which included commitments to traceability, third-party certification, and avoiding illegal sources of seafood. He is now working to ensure his tuna fisheries and the local fishing industry they support remain healthy through implementing precautionary improvements.

In 2012, an MSC pre-assessment of tuna species targeted by two Japanese longliners was conducted for albacore, bigeye, yellowfin, and pacific bluefin tunas. In 2017 that pre-assessment was updated and concluded that the albacore and yellowfin tuna components of the fishery could be considered “well-positioned for certification” contingent on several key improvements. These include adopting harvest control rules for the northern albacore tuna stock, expanding on-board observer coverage to collect information on catches of non-target species such as sharks, billfish, seabirds and turtles, and implementing measures to reduce those non-target catches where necessary.

While Wakiguchi-san’s goal for the FIP is an unconditional pass of the Marine Stewardship Council, the Nachi Katsuura Albacore Longline FIP is also working to bring about greater positive change throughout the entire region by growing to include additional fishing boats, processors, and wholesalers, and improvement measures which work to protect additional tuna species.

Key Conservation Concerns:

  • While stock status appears healthy, juveniles are disproportionately caught as juvenile albacore aged 2-4 years, comprised, on average, 70% of annual catch between 1993-2015 (graph from ISC).
  • A formal harvest control rule needs to be adopted for the North Pacific albacore stock, which would ensure that the exploitation rate is reduced when stock abundance is at low levels.
  • Regulations require that fishery interactions with seabirds, sharks, and turtles are reported, and although observer data on these interactions are collected, the data are not readily obtainable. Such data are needed to evaluate effects of the fishery on ETP species.

What We're Doing:

  • Facilitated the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between tuna fishermen, wholesalers, and NGOs to pursue more sustainable tuna fisheries.
  • Reviewed and updated an MSC pre-assessment previously completed in 2012. The updated pre-assessment completed by O2 identified priority environmental challenges and opportunities for improvement through a FIP.
  • Development of a FIP workplan to address deficiencies found during the MSC pre-assessment, including plans to better monitor and track information on retained species, pilot a traceability system in alignment with MSC traceability/Chain of Custody standards which tracks product from point of harvest to point of final sale, develop a strategy to implement a precautionary management framework, and monitor interactions with seabirds and sea turtles.
  • Convening fishery stakeholders every six months to generate support, participation, and funding, including facilitating matching funds and in-kind contributions, for improvement efforts.

Project News and Additional Resources


Fishery Improvement Project Information:

FIP Status: Comprehensive FIP (tracked fully on FisheryProgress.org)
Project Launch: October 2017
Location: Nachi Katsuura, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan
Participants: Ocean Outcomes, Yamasa Wakiguchi Co., No. 78 Kaiou Maru
Species: Albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga)
Gear Type: Longline
Volume: 150 mt - No. 78 Kaiou Maru annually harvests 150 mt of albacore. Based on the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Tuna Fishery Yearbook, 227 Japanese longline vessels caught 12,142 mt of albacore tuna in 2015.
Documents: Pre-assessment / Workplan

This FIP is tracked publically in its entirety on FisheryProgress.org, see the Nachi Katsuura Albacore Longline FIP profile here.

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