Highlights include participating company compliance report, progress at tuna management bodies and update on tuna stock health

For Immediate Release                                                                                              

Contact:         Erin Grandstaff and Charlie Patterson, +1 202-618-6000

erin@sqcomms.com, charlie@sqcomms.com 

Washington, D.C. – 24 June 2015 The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) released its annual report today Driving Change through Collaboration, which outlines progress and achievements for tuna sustainability in 2014 and lays out the various needs for continuous improvement of global tuna fisheries through collaboration and advocacy. The report also emphasizes efforts to encourage industry engagement, including efforts by ISSF participating companies to comply with ISSF conservation measures and commitments.

“Important steps were taken in 2014 to help ensure the longevity of tuna stocks and the greater marine ecosystem, but we also saw inaction in some fisheries that could have distressing impacts on stocks down the road,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson.

“In order for ISSF to continue to work towards its mission and encourage better management, we’ll need to continue to collaborate with stakeholders and governing bodies to get things done from a policy perspective and to move forward on market incentives, strengthened compliance and monitoring and data collection tools – in addition to other efforts capable of changing the status quo.”

ISSF areas of focus:

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU)

Challenge: On a planet that is about 70% ocean, effectively monitoring the activities of individual boats that are constantly on the move following a highly migratory species like tuna is a challenging task – as is and effectively monitoring the flow of tuna products through a supply chain that is global and multi-faceted. The increased use of unique vessel identifying numbers (UVI), such as those provided by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) are key to identifying and tracking vessels, a first step.

What’s in the report:

  • Collaborative work of public-private partnerships is having an impact. At the end of 2011, only 12% of large-scale purse seine vessels targeting tropical tuna had IMO numbers. Today, nearly 90% have registered IMO numbers and all four of the tuna management bodies now mandate these numbers.

Status of the Stocks

Challenge: Maintaining healthy stocks and reacting swiftly and decisively when a certain stock is being overfished. The primary objective of ISSF 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 all tuna fisheries meeting the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification standard without conditions, if they would choose to seek certification.

What’s in the report:

  • ISSF Analysis of Tuna Fisheries against MSC Performance Indicators
  • Stock health is favorable generally, but all RFMOs must adopt clear and well-defined reactive rules, known as Harvest Control Rules (HCRs), to be executed quickly when a specific stock hits its pre-defined point of vulnerability so that the stock(s) may recover.
  • By the numbers:
    • 52% — the amount of stocks globally that are at a healthy level of abundance
    • 9% — the amount of stocks globally that need stronger management to end overfishing
    • 86% — the amount of tuna catch (by tonnage) that comes from healthy stocks
    • 3% — amount of tuna catch (by tonnage) from stocks where fishing is not well managed
  • A stock to watch is the Western and Central Pacific bigeye, which has been depleted by 84% from its unfished level. The stock’s abundance could be helped tremendously by reducing catches substantially.

Gear Types and Bycatch

Challenge: Comprehensive management and science-based improvements across all fishing methods will generate greater benefits to fisheries over the long term. There’s no silver bullet to reduce catch.

What’s in the report:

  • In 2014, ISSF sponsored two research cruises that brought together scientists and fishers to work on a number of important issues and potential improvements.
  • In 2014, the total number of participants attending ISSF’s Skippers Workshops – where ISSF-sponsored scientists and presenters dialogue with fishers regarding sustainability best practices – climbed to more than 1,000 individuals.
  • Nearly all RFMOs now require submission of Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) data; as data reporting improves, better science-based management decisions can be made.
  • ICCAT joined IOTC in adopting a mandate to use non-entangling FADs by a specific date
  • IOTC, ICCAT and WCPFC created FAD working groups to explore opportunities for improved data collection and new technology development, as well as to consider options for better monitoring, tracking and management.


Challenge: Too many boats, with too much fishing capacity are a threat to fish stocks.

What’s in the report:

  • To help address this issue, ISSF participating companies passed an amendment to its previous capacity resolution that includes new, stronger provisions for controlling the addition of large-scale purse seine vessels to the ISSF Record. Additionally, the new resolution explicitly states that any purse seine vessel that does not meet the requirements of the ISSF capacity resolution is not eligible for listing on the ISSF Proactive Vessel Register (PVR).
  • ISSF has held a series of global workshops with industry experts, fishery managers, policymakers and developing coastal States; in 2014, ISSF held another meeting focused on how to balance the need to reduce fishing capacity and provide avenues for the legitimate development aspirations of developing coastal States through such mechanisms as capacity transfers.

Data Collection

Challenge: Oceans are vast, tunas are highly migratory and some fleets and skippers lack the technology, training or incentives necessary to help collect required data for scientists and RFMOs to make sound, educated decisions. RFMOs, member countries, fisheries and fishing vessels must take concrete steps to improve the timely and more complete collection of, and access to, fishing data.

What’s in the report:

  • ISSF and others work with scientists, fishery managers and vessel owners to determine the most efficient ways to transmit data to RFMOs faster and more completely.
  • ISSF participates in a public-private partnership to conduct multiple trials of electronic logbooks for vessel skippers and observers that can transmit data to RFMOs in near-real time.

“From the very beginning, our Foundation has been dedicated to breaking down the walls between government, industry, scientists, RFMO’s, markets and so on. By collaborating with NGOs, scientists and industry to form one group, we are truly able to put ‘multistakeholder collaboration’ at the heart of everything that we do,” said ISSF president Susan Jackson.

“What gives me the most hope for the future of our global tuna stocks is the increase of cooperation among groups. Everyone sitting around the ‘tuna sustainability’ table is beginning to recognize each individual’s unique tools and capabilities, allowing for true scientific and strategic collaboration,” said ISSF Board of Directors Vice Chair Bill Fox, Vice President, Fisheries, WWF-US.  “Ending IUU, for example, is certainly not going to happen overnight, but when we focus on the strengths of each group, we are able to push forward with an end goal in mind.”


About the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation

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 their website at iss-foundation.org.

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