U.S. Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Monitored and 2014 Forecast Issued

To provide fishery managers and fishermen with early and actionable information on longline catches subject to catch limits, PIFSC estimates and forecasts longline bigeye tuna catch in the Pacific. The catch statistics are computed by coupling longline logbook catch data that are provided by Hawaii longline vessels with estimates of average weights per fish from Hawaii fish sales data. Catch summaries for U.S. longline fishing in the western and central Pacific (WCPFC Area) and the eastern Pacific Ocean are provided as a PIFSC Internal Report entitled "Advice on U.S. Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch in Relation to Limits in Effect for 2014" (IR-14-025) to US fishery managers.

The first (preliminary) 2014 catch estimate and forecast were provided July 11, with updates on July 24, August 27, and September 9. In late August the cumulative catch was estimated to have reached 2,798 metric tons, a little more than in 2013, less than in 2012, and about average for the cumulative catch at this point in the year (Figure 1).

Forecasts of when the U.S. catch limit of 3,763 metric tons in the WCPFC Area will likely be reached are made assuming that additional catches in 2014 will continue based on the average catch patterns during 2006-2013 The 2014 catch was a little higher than average in February, but since then the cumulative catch has been average, and all of the forecasts so far (data through late August) have projected the catch as reaching the U.S. limit of 3,763 metric tons in late November (Figure 2, below), as is typical of most years. The forecasts will be updated regularly as monitoring continues and more data are collected.

Figure 3 shows cumulative bigeye tuna catch (kept) by U.S. vessels in the Inter-American Tropical Commission (IATTC) area in the eastern Pacific Ocean during 2014 for all vessels (light grey line) and for vessels 24 m or longer (dark grey line). The total catch of bigeye tuna in the Inter-America Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) area in the eastern Pacific Ocean has not been unusual this year, but the most recent data update in late August indicates that catches by the large U.S. longline vessels had already reached the record high level seen in 2013, when the catch limit was reached in mid-October.

A description of the 3,763 metric ton (mt) bigeye tuna catch limit for U.S. longline vessels in the WCPFC Area and a link to the Compliance Guide that describes what catches are subject to the catch limit are available at http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/SFD/SFD_regs_6.html. Note that U.S. longline catches do not include fish landed in the U.S. Territories, or fish caught outside the Hawaii EEZ by vessels permitted to fish in the U.S. Territories. Information on the current status of the catch limit is updated regularly (http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/SFD/SFD_regs_3.html). Similar information on the 500 mt U.S. longline bigeye catch limit in the IATTC Area (i.e., eastern Pacific) for vessels greater than or equal to 24 m in length is also available (http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/SFD/SFD_regs_4.html).