PAGO PAGO, AMERICAN SAMOA – 4 March 2011 –Tuna stocks in the Pacific are being fished at the highest levels in history, placing increased pressure on species that are taken as bycatch – non-targeted marine life incidentally captured by fishers. This week, a collaborative workshop in the tuna port of Pago Pago, American Samoa will teach purse seine vessel crewmembers techniques and best practices to reduce bycatch and provide an opportunity for the fishing community to share its knowledge with scientists.
“These workshops are not one-way learning environments where scientists lecture to industry,” said Dr. Victor Restrepo, Chair of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) Scientific Advisory Committee. “The fishers on the water have valuable information that scientists can put to good use and we learn just as much from these experts as we hope they learn from us.”
The workshops are modeled after a program that was designed and put into practice by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) in the eastern Pacific Ocean. With the help of leading scientists and fishing experts, ISSF has adapted the program to be used in ocean regions around the world. Programs have been facilitated in Latin America, Africa and Europe.
In conjunction with the educational program, ISSF has embarked on an at-sea project designed to develop more responsible purse seine fishing practices. The main area of focus is on fish aggregating devices (FADS) – floating objects that attract fish. Many purse seine vessels use these natural or manmade rafts and, while efficient, this practice leads to an increase in bycatch, mainly small tuna.
“Over the past year scientists have taken what they’ve learned from vessel crewmembers and used it to further enhance projects and ongoing research. We’re also able to take information we get from skippers in one region and share it with skippers in another part of the world, a simple concept that rarely happened in the past.”
“The goal is the same for all of us – to make fishing for tuna even more targeted than it is today. Having a direct link to the fishing community and access to on-the-water expertise provides us with an opportunity to advance the identification and implementation of solutions faster than we have been able to in the past.”
For a more information about these workshops, including the content covered, please click here.
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation is a global partnership among scientists, the tuna industry and WWF, the world’s leading conservation organization, promoting science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting ecosystem health.