ISSF Lists Priorities for Upcoming Annual Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) Meeting

Contact: Charlie Patterson, +1 202-680-8132, [email protected]

Washington, DC -- May 17, 2017

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has released its position statement in advance of the 21st Session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, May 22-26.

ISSF’s highest priority item is for IOTC to improve its implementation of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) tools. This need is particularly key as the Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO) continues its work to stem the overfishing of yellowfin tuna occurring in the ocean region.

ISSF urges IOTC to: strengthen the collection and reporting of catch and effort data; adopt the Scientific Committee guidelines for electronic monitoring and a 100% observer coverage requirement for large-scale purse seine vessels; and enforce the minimum 5% observer requirement for longline vessels. ISSF further urges other key steps that address the region’s information gaps, like reforming the transshipment measure to address loopholes and strengthening the IOTC’s compliance assessment process.

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“The IOTC showed great leadership last year by adopting harvest control rules for the region’s skipjack tuna stock, and the Commission headed in the right direction by beginning to reduce catches of yellowfin tuna,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “But effective enforcement of agreed-upon conservation and management measures must be supported by strong monitoring, control and surveillance systems if the positive impact of such measures on Indian Ocean tuna fisheries is to be fully realized. That’s action we need to see progressed this year.”

Additional asks from ISSF this year include:

  • Stronger support of data collection, and the full implementation of harvest strategies
  • FAD management through science-based measures and full implementation of provisions for the use of non-entangling FADs
  • The adoption of a new level of longline observer coverage that would provide reasonable estimates of total bycatch, such as 20%
  • Strengthening the IOTC IUU Vessel List, including to clarify listing and delisting procedures, adding common ownership as a listing criterion, and ensuring that flag States cannot veto IUU listing decisions for their vessels
  • Developing a regional, best-practice satellite-based vessel monitoring system (VMS)
  • Strengthening the IOTC Resolution on shark finning by requiring that all sharks be landed with fins naturally attached

Read the full position statement.

ISSF’s goal is to improve the sustainability of global tuna stocks by developing and implementing verifiable, science-based practices, commitments and international management measures that result in tuna fisheries meeting the MSC certification standard without conditions. Therefore, ISSF’s appeal to the IOTC and RFMOs in all ocean regions align with performance indicators that comprise the principles of the Marine Stewardship Council certification standard: Principle 1, Sustainable fish stocks; Principle 2, Minimizing environmental impacts; and Principle 3, Effective management.

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/.