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Pacific tuna meeting priorities

Contact: Erin Grandstaff and Charlie Patterson, +1 202-466-4437
erin@vennsq.com, charlie@vennsq.com

ISSF Pushes for FAD Management & Harvest Control Rules
Nations must also implement stronger measures for bigeye tuna conservation 

Manila, Philippines – 29 November 2012 – As delegates prepare for the 9th Regular Session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Manila, Philippines, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is calling on member nations to give highest priority to implementing harvest control rules (HCRs) and advancing the management of fish aggregating devices, manmade floating objects known as FADs.

In general, FAD monitoring and management measures are not as strong as they should be, where they exist at all. According to the WCPFC’s FAD Management Plan guidelines, there are two types of data that need to be collected: inventory and encounters. This can be done through FAD logbooks with data delivered to the RFMO scientific bodies. ISSF is pushing for nations to take steps to improve the collection of this information, which the WCPFC Scientific Committee can then use to advise on necessary FAD management measures.

“Ultimately member nations must make sound management decisions based on the information derived from tools such as FAD logbooks,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “While it’s imperative to collect information on how FADs are constructed, where they’re used and how often vessels retrieve them, it’s not enough just to round up the data. Nations have an obligation to use that information collectively to better manage the fishery at the RFMO level.”

ISSF is also urging the nations to adopt harvest control rules, which ensure that the health of tuna stocks no longer fall victim to time-consuming talks and negotiations. With a well-designed harvest strategy, based upon target and limit reference points, management measures can be implemented quickly, while a stock is still relatively healthy.

The most recent scientific assessment of bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific found that current management measures have been ineffective at ending the overfishing of the stock. As there is currently no harvest strategy in place, ISSF is urging nations to adopt measures that will reduce bigeye catches. Options include FAD closures or limits, or total seasonal closures, provided that the selected measures are both fully enforceable and applicable to all participants.

Jackson added, “While there may be more than one way to reduce the catch of bigeye, we’re convinced that a total closure of the purse seine fishery, for a certain period of time and without exemptions, would be the easiest to implement and enforce. If purse seine vessels aren’t allowed to be fishing anywhere in the region, it will be much easier to identify those vessels ignoring the rules.”

In addition, the WCPFC should address bycatch mitigation measures and improve data collection for shark species, including a move to the total prohibition of the at-sea removal of shark fins and mandate that fins remain naturally attached for all sharks landed. ISSF is also advocating that the WCPFC operate under a closed vessel registration and management system. The system should be designed to limit entry for new purse seine vessels to fish in the area and ultimately reduce the number of vessels to a sustainable level, while developing mechanisms to transfer capacity to allow for the increased participation of developing countries without increasing overall capacity.

To access the full position statement click here.


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