There is a general consensus among scientists, regional bodies, and governments that excess fishing capacity exists in most of the tuna purse seine fisheries and large-scale longline fisheries, and that the problem of overfishing is principally the result of open-access fishing and related excess fishing capacity.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

ISSF is concerned that, despite this consensus, excess fishing capacity exists in most of the tuna purse seine fisheries, and the fishing capacity of these fleets is actually growing. RFMOs are responsible for ensuring, through effective management, the long-term conservation and sustainable fishing of highly migratory fish stocks in the world’s oceans.

The objective of ISSF regarding capacity management is to facilitate the effective conservation and management of tuna resources under RFMO mandates.

WHAT WE ARE DOING ABOUT IT

ISSF has led a series of workshops on the topic of capacity management beginning with the 2010 Bellagio Conference on Sustainable Tuna Fisheries, which resulted in the publication of the Bellagio Framework for Sustainable Tuna Fisheries and highlighted the necessity of capping the current number of vessels and discouraging the addition of new ones.

In the ISSF capacity conservation measure, the tuna industry is urged to support only those vessels that are on the water unless new vessels are replacing existing fishing vessels that are taken completely out of service.

Limiting demand is something industry should do, but this alone will not solve overcapacity issues. A former director of the IATTC, Dr. James Joseph, wrote of the “need to address the issues related to common property resources and property-rights based management, the allocation of catches and fleet capacities among participants, the rights of access on the high seas, the authority for regional tuna organizations to deal with some of these matters.”

Once capacity is limited, nations must work toward fairly allocating rights to existing fishing capacity. ISSF has therefore convened workshops that build on the Bellagio Framework and advance these aspects of capacity management:

The outcomes of these workshops recognized that the issue of capacity transfers is fundamental and a means of accommodating coastal states’ rights, which led ISSF to next convene the first workshop to discuss the issue – the ISSF Capacity Transfer Workshop.

As our measure on capacity management requires, ISSF will “continue to sponsor regional and global workshops on fleet capacity management, including mechanisms for capacity transfers.” In addition, ISSF reinforces its position on the topic in its advocacy to RFMOs. The first step that RFMOs can take toward managing capacity is to establish limited entry via a comprehensive, closed vessel registry with an eye toward ultimately reducing the number of fishing vessels to an appropriate level.