Scientific Committee, Port Vila, 10-21 August
The fifth session of the WCPFC Scientific Committee (SC5) was held at Port Vila, Vanuatu, during 10-21 August 2009, chaired by Mr N. Miyabe (Japan). Over 110 scientists, fishery officials and industry representatives were attended from 26 members and ten IGOs and NGOs. The provisional total Western Central Pacific Convention Area tuna catch for 2008 was estimated at 2,426,195 mt, the highest annual catch recorded, but only 6,000 mt higher than the previous record in 2007. Six Specialist Working Groups (Biology, Ecosystem and Bycatch, Fishing Technology, Methods, Statistics and Stock Assessment) met at the first week of the meeting, covering estimation of biological parameters, ecological risk assessment and ecosystem management, methods to mitigate bycatch and small tuna caught in tuna fisheries, a seminar on reference points, issues on data gaps, and update on the stock status and management advice on key tuna species. Bigeye tuna stock in the western and central Pacific Ocean was identified to be more pessimistic in 2009 assessment compared to those in 2008. SC5 recommended that, considering the potential failure, based on an evaluation analysis, of Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna Measure (CMM-2008-01) in achieving its important objective, further actions need to be taken by the Commission. A comprehensive research on fisheries impacts through ecological risk assessment (ERA) has been conducted with funding support from the Commission since 2007. This covers capacity building of member countries on ERA, risk assessment on seabirds, sharks and sea turtles, and stock assessment of key shark species. Improvement of species composition of purse-seine catches is also an important project that the Commission is funding for three years, which will reduce sampling bias in stock assessment. The Commission commenced a West Pacific East Asia Oceanic Fisheries Management Project funded by Global Environmental Facility from 2009, which is an extension of the Commission-funded data collection project in Indonesia and Philippines, now including Vietnam in the new project. The Secretariat will take the initiative in conducting this important project. SC5 reviewed recommendations from the ‘Independent Review of the Commission’s Transitional Science Structure and Functions’ and addressed its views on most of the recommendations, including relations with ISC, peer review of stock assessment and incorporation of ISC data into WCPFC data holdings. Details of the meeting results are included in the SC5 Summary Report on the Commission’s website.