Harvest Control Rules (HCRs) – Articulating Urgent Needs & Advocating for Scientific Perspectives

Well-defined HCRs can prevent overfishing and restore depleted stocks.

Tuna RFMOs are responsible for defining and implementing harvest control rules (HCRs) for their member nations and fleets to follow.

HCRs are a set of well-defined management actions to be taken in response to changes in tuna stock status with respect to target and limit reference points. By establishing HCRs, fisheries managers have an pre-agreed upon action plan to avoid overfishing—thereby avoiding long negotiations at the RFMO level that lead to delayed action or inaction.

Without HCRs, such delayed action or inaction can lead to further damage to a tuna stock, requiring that fishing of it must be aggressively curtailed. Adopting HCRs is essential for effective fisheries management and required by seafood eco-label certification programs.

Yet developing and overseeing HCRs is not straightforward work for RFMOs — it requires clear objectives, timely and reliable data, consensus among member nations, and rigorous compliance and monitoring.

ISSF assists RFMOs in their important HCR work in several ways:

  • Convenes workshops and other forums for stakeholder discussion
  • Serves as technical expert in RFMO scientific meetings and workshops
  • Tracks RFMO activities against scientific recommendations and implementation timelines
  • Enacts supporting conservation measures on catch traceability and documentation
  • Educates and builds capacity on the value of HCRs in ensuring tuna sustainability

In 2016, we intensified our efforts to offer scientific guidance and other capacity-building assistance — including for RFMO member nations — through workshops, technical meetings and reports.

Our NGO and industry partners also helped to amplify our call for HCR recommendations, agreeing to co-sign individual letters to ICCAT, IOTC, IATTC and WCPFC — twice as many as we sent in 2015.

Click here to view a timeline of ISSF activities on HCRs in our 2016 annual report


About the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is a global coalition of scientists, the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (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. To learn more, visit https://iss-foundation.org/.