Assessing progress in data reporting by tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations

Kristina N. Heidrich, Maria José Juan-Jordá, Hilario Murua, Christopher D.H. Thompson, Jessica J. Meeuwig, Dirk Zeller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Web of Science)


Tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) are responsible for conservation and sustainable management of transboundary tuna resources in Exclusive Economic Zones and Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ). The data collected and analyses performed by tuna RFMOs are one of the main sources of scientific information supporting the management, sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity in the ABNJ. An understanding of the scope and availability of data provided by tuna RFMOs is timely, given the expected establishment of a new legally binding high seas agreement to protect marine biodiversity in the ABNJ. We examined official catch statistics and stock assessments that are accessible in the public domain for the five tuna RFMOs, and evaluated their taxonomic, spatial and temporal resolution. We found that the Atlantic and Indian Ocean tuna RFMOs report catches for a greater number of taxa compared to Pacific RFMOs. There are substantial gaps in the taxonomic resolution of sharks and rays and ‘other teleosts’, and only about half of the reported global catches are georeferenced, despite existing mandatory requirements. Additionally, the estimation and reporting of discards in all tuna RFMOs remains incomplete. Tuna RFMOs have made progress in implementing stock assessments for a wide range of taxa including targeted species with high economic value but also functionally important non-target species with lower economic value. However, assessments should be expanded to cover other bycatch species. We emphasize the importance of accessible and accurate statistics, for supporting the research and societal oversight needed under any future ABNJ biodiversity treaty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1264-1281
Number of pages18
JournalFish and Fisheries
Issue number6
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


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