In June 2013, Fishing & LivingTM ANOVA became fully involved in the FIP for the Cook Islands Longline Fishery targeting Albacore and Yellowfin tuna.
The fishery targets offshore Albacore and Yellowfin using deep-set longlines and takes place mainly in northern portion of the Cook Islands Economic ExclusiveZone (EEZ) and occasionally in the adjacent High Seas. Areas of High Seas are located immediately to the north and south with a small pocket of High Seas to the East. This fishery operates primarily out of the American Samoa meaning that the majority of the catch is landed in Pago Pago (and occasionally in Rarotonga, Cook Islands), where landing facilities are more adapted to the longline fleet.
Longlining consists in deploying a main fishing line with a series of shorter lines with baited hooks attached at intervals. A string of longline gear is deployed off the vessels through the fishing grounds. Buoy lines are attached to both ends of the gear and fastened to floats to mark the location of the gear at the surface. The lines are set at first light between 100 and 300m deep and retrieved in the early evening.
Tuna species caught & Fishing grounds
Albacore tuna is highly migratory, exploiting widely-spaced feeding and spawning ground. Two albacore stocks (North and South Pacific) are recognized in the Pacific Ocean based on location and seasons of spawning. Juveniles appear to migrate southwards, presumably in search of food in more productive temperate waters. After this initial migration, the movement of albacore is more uncertain – they may gradually move back north, or may migrate seasonally between tropical and sub-tropical areas. The Cook Islands reported to WCPFC a total catch for 2011 of albacore of 4,784 t in its EEZ and 5.68 t by Cook Islands vessels outside its EEZ. The latest stock assessment (2012) revealed that the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occuring.
Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) is a highly migratory and relatively fast growing species and are distributed in tropical and sub-tropical regions. These are found in the upper 100m of the water column. Longline catches in the WCPO have been stable at 70-80,000t/year since the 1980’s. The Cook Islands reported to WCPFC a total catch for 2011 of yellowfin of 2,051 t in its EEZ and 0.88 t by Cook Islands vessels outside its EEZ.The latest stock assessment (2011) indicates that the stock is not overfished and not under going overfishing, although the stock is fully exploited in some sub-regions.