RFMO · IOTC
In response to the expansion of the Indian Ocean tuna fisheries in the early 1980’s, an agreement for the establishment of an Indian Ocean Tuna Commission was developed and approved in 1993, finally entering into force in 1996. The Secretariat was established in Seychelles in 1998. Currently, IOTC includes 29 member States and three cooperating States.
Unlike the other tuna RFMOs, the IOTC was created within the framework of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s (FAO) Constitution. In spite of the administrative links to FAO, the Commission is fully autonomous, both functionally and financially, as the budget is supported entirely by member contributions.
However, the link to the UN system places restrictions on the membership that affect the ability of IOTC to take effective conservation and management measures. For example, Chinese Taipei is currently one of the most important tuna harvesters in the region, but is not able to be a member or a cooperating party of IOTC, and, therefore cannot formally fulfil its obligations to cooperate with IOTC.
The IOTC is responsible for: keeping under review the conditions and trends of the stocks of tuna and tuna-like fishes of the Indian Ocean; encouraging, recommending, and coordinating research and development activities, including the transfer of technology and training, with due regard to the equitable participation of members, particularly the special needs of developing coastal states; adopting conservation and management measures to ensure the conservation of the stocks; keeping under review the economic and social aspects of the fisheries covered by the Convention bearing in mind the interests of developing coastal states.
The IOTC members elect an Executive Secretary who is responsible for the operation of the Secretariat. The Secretariat acts as technical facilitator of the IOTC process, including dealing with data collection, stock assessment and compliance issues. Most of the scientific work is conducted by national scientists and reviewed at a Scientific Committee, the body responsible for formulating scientific advice to the member States. On the basis of this advice, conservation and management measures are considered by members at the IOTC annual Session. If a measure is agreed to by, at least, two-thirds majority, it becomes binding on the members although there is an objection provisions. The Commission is further assisted by a Compliance Committee that provides technical advice and monitoring on the level of enforcement and compliance by the member States.