This International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) issue brief outlines the importance of baitfish in one-by-one tuna fisheries, the current challenges associated with baitfish use, and the work IPNLF is doing to improve the sustainability of bait fishing in the tuna fisheries we work with.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BAITFISH IN ONE-BY-ONE TUNA FISHERIES
Many pole-and-line and handline fisheries require live baitfish to attract tuna. The most common baitfish are types of anchovies, sardines, and sprats, and are generally found in coastal waters. Bait fishing techniques vary by region, each of which is influenced by a variety of factors including the moon phase and weather conditions. In Indonesia, small pelagic fish are often caught using liftnet platforms, called bagans, and the pole-and-line vessels then buy baitfish from these fishers. In the Maldives, pole-and-line boats catch their own baitfish at night using powerful lights and hand-tended nets.
On the west coast of North America, albacore fishermen catch baitfish at river mouths, and if the catching conditions are not right they buy baitfish locally. Across all baitfish fisheries, fishers pay great attention to the handling of this precious commodity to optimise survival from catch, to transfer, to storage on the fishing vessels.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?
The International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) works to ensure that fishing for baitfish is done responsibly. Some of the key issues that one-by-one fisheries must account for include:
- Monitoring bait fishing, including the collection of information on species, locations, and catch volumes
- Minimising user-conflict where species are also caught for human consumption
- Development and application of fishery management plans, where appropriate
- Addressing the inconsistent availability of baitfish due to seasonality, moon phase - and other environmental factors
WHAT IS IPNLF DOING TO IMPROVE THINGS?
IPNLF works to develop and demonstrate the value of one-by-one caught tuna in order to improve the wellbeing of coastal fisheries, and the people and seas connected with them. Recognising the challenges faced by one-by-one tuna fisheries, IPNLF is working to enhance the following:
1 - RAISING THE PROFILE
Momentum is growing in international fora acknowledging the social dimension of seafood production and the importance of small-scale fisheries. However, for the most part these fishers receive less recognition in international markets and policy-making. IPNLF acts as a voice and champion for the one-by-one sector to help 'tell-and-sell' the story of the people and places behind the product to influence and advance global tuna sustainability. Our social research programmes support evidence-based advocacy for political and market recognition of the contribution of one-by-one fisheries to the communities and regions where they are located.
2 - INCREASED MARKET SHARE
Market demand for this type of tuna is vital in key consuming countries (e.g. the US and in Europe). IPNLF works with both private and public sector stakeholders to build capacity for responding to changing trends within global markets. Such trends include the increased awareness around traceability as well as expectations that seafood products comply with certain environmental and social standards. Meeting such standards are vital to ensure that one-by-one tuna fisheries maintain access to global markets.
3 - TRACEABILITY
Robust traceability systems add value and reputational credibility to one-by-one fisheries and are an important component of globally traded tuna. IPNLF is assisting creating traceable, transparent and validated one-by-one tuna supply chains that supports regional tuna management efforts to increase the data collected from near-shore, artisanal and small-scale tuna vessels.
4 - APPLYING BEST PRACTICE
Training of Trainers (ToT) is an international scheme, initiated and developed in collaboration with our fishery partners, that teaches fisheries stakeholders on topics such as sustainable fisheries; product quality and handling; and baitfish handling. Additionally, IPNLF and Asosiasi Perikanan Pole & Line dan Handline (AP2HI) have designed and developed a baitfish identification manual to assist fishers to accurately identify and record primary baitfish species.
5 - INVESTING IN RESEARCH
To improve baitfish availability in Indonesia, IPNLF, with support from some of our members and partners, has invested in milkfish farming projects to develop this resource as an alternative to wild-caught baitfish. A pilot hatchery project saw successful full cycle production, and initial fishing trials are showing strong indications of the potential for milkfish cultivation to be an economically viable alternative baitfish source.
6 - COMMUNICATING RESULTS
IPNLF employs a variety of platforms to promote ongoing research, technical reports, and the good work of our Members. IPNLF uses traditional and social media tools to spread news on the latest developments to a global audience.
IPNLF/AP2HI BAITFISH RESOURCES
Gillett R, Jauharee A. R, Adam M. S, (2013) Maldives Livebait Fishery Management Plan, Marine Research Centre, Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, Maldives LINK
Pacific Fisheries Management Council (2011) Coastal Pelagic Fisheries Management Plan LINK
Padiyar, A. P. & Budhiman, A. A. (2014) Farmed Milkfish as Bait for the Tuna Pole-and-line Fishing Industry in Eastern Indonesia: A Feasibility Study. IPNLF Technical Report No. 4, International Pole & Line Foundation, London, 49 Pages LINK
This document should be cited as: IPNLF, 2016, Baitfish management, Issue Briefs