Data is integral to stock assessments and the management of all fisheries. While there is a wealth of information for scientists to work with, data sets can often be incomplete, depending on the region. There is regular failure of vessels and states to collect and report accurate fisheries data as well as the incapacity of coastal states with large fleets of small boats to collect and report data. Mixed performance of RFMOs in compelling compliance and a lack of participation of various fishing nations in RFMOs also stand in the way of progress.
Generally, the data from unloadings/landings are used to determine catch by species, and in analyses of catches recorded in fishing vessel logbooks and observer records. Statistics on total catch are used in assessments of stock status and are presented in aggregates that include data from all sources. Analyses of catches from fishing vessel records are generally used to estimate catches by area, and to determine if the information in a logbook or observer record should be included in scientific analyses.
Even in cases where RFMO member nations are fully and timely complying with their data provision obligations to the RFMOs, the scientists find that independent provision of data from companies is valuable for their work and for validation of data received from other sources. The IATTC is an excellent case in point. Due to the 100% observer coverage on purse seine fishing vessels, they have the most robust data set of all of the RFMOs, yet they also have an established process for directly collecting processor and landings data.
ISSF and its Participating Companies have resolved (ISSF Resolution 09-03) to support the tuna RFMO scientists to ensure that their findings and the data underlying them are as accurate and complete as possible. To this end, the companies have committed to provide data that is within their control directly to the RFMO scientific bodies. Participating companies are committed to providing reports to the RFMOs by the end of the month following each calendar quarter.
As requested by ISSF, the RFMOs have developed a uniform set of minimum standards for information requested from the companies. This group includes the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT), the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), which provides scientific advice to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).