Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Transactions Of The American Fisheries Society





First Page


Last Page



Like many stocks, the Pacific Bluefin Tuna Thunnus orientalis has been considerably depleted. High exploitation rates on very young fish have reduced the spawning stock biomass (SSB) to 2.6% of the unexploited level. We provide a framework for exploring potential benefits of minimum size regulations as a mechanism for rebuilding stocks, and we illustrate the approach using simulations patterned after Pacific Bluefin Tuna dynamics. We attempt to mitigate short-term losses in yield by considering a phased-in management strategy. With this approach, the minimum size limit (MSL) is gradually increased as biomass rebuilds, giving fishing communities time to adjust to new restrictions. We estimated short- and long-term effects of different MSLs on yield and biomass by using data from the 2016 assessment. A variety of scenarios was considered for growth compensation, discard mortality, and interest rates. The long-term value of the fishery was maximized by setting an MSL of 92 cm FL, which resulted in a 70% loss in yield during the first year (short-term pain). By implementing the MSL in two phases (64 cm FL in year 1; 92 cm FL in subsequent years), the long-term value of the fishery was maintained, and the short-term pain was reduced to a maximum 46% loss in yield during any 1 year. Under a three-phase implementation (55 cm FL in year 1; 77 cm FL in year 2; and 92 cm FL in subsequent years), the short-term pain was further reduced to a maximum loss of 30% during any 1 year. With no discard mortality, long-term yield increased by 165% and SSB increased 13-fold (to 33% of virgin SSB), regardless of the number of phases used. Long-term benefits were quickly diminished with increasing discard mortality. This simulation approach is widely applicable to cases where minimum size changes are contemplated; for Pacific Bluefin Tuna, our simulations demonstrate that size limits should be considered.




Thynnus L.; Management; Growth; Catch; Fisheries; Recovery; Regulations; Recruitment; Eastern; Impact