Contact: Charlie Patterson, +1 202-680-8132,

Location: Washington, DC -- November 10, 2016

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has released its position statement in advance of the 20th Special Meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in Vilamoura, Portugal, on 14-21 November 2016.

“North and south Atlantic albacore stocks are no longer being overfished, and yellowfin stocks in the region are also showing signs of a strong recovery. ISSF applauds the efforts of ICCAT to improve these stocks and holds ICCAT up as an example of what can be accomplished through sound management,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson.

“There are still significant steps to be taken in the region regarding harvest control rules and to address issues such illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and gaps in observer coverage. ISSF will continue to advocate for these priorities aggressively to ensure the long term viability of tuna fisheries in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.”

Consistent with ISSF’s long-time backing of harvest strategies as essential to modern fisheries management, the Foundation urges ICCAT to continue the progress established through Recommendation 15-04 to establish HCRs for the North Atlantic Albacore Stock and Recommendation 15-07 on the Development of HCRs and of Management Strategy Evaluation, by advancing the essential processes outlined in these recommendations in accordance with their agreed-upon timelines.

ICCAT delegates received an outreach letter from like-minded NGOs and industry colleagues prior to the meeting that underscored the need for continued progress on harvest strategies this year.

Setting on FADs accounts for nearly 40% of global tuna catches and 50% of global skipjack catches. In 2014, ICCAT created a Working Group on FADs, which has since met twice. ISSF endorses the recommendations in the working group’s 2016 report: develop a total retention policy for tropical tunas to better manage bycatch and reduce discards in tropical tuna fisheries and extend 100% observer coverage on large-scale purse seine vessels to cover the entire year.

ISSF participating companies also sent numerous outreach letters to ICCAT delegates echoing these appeals, as well as emphasizing other priorities in the ISSF position statement.

Other improvements advocated for in the ISSF position statement include:

  • Collect data on the number and use of supply vessels, such as the number of FADs being deployed and serviced by such vessels
  • Identify what activities supply vessels are engaged in — for example, working as bait boats, servicing FADs, or engaging in fishing
  • Ensure observer coverage and VMS requirements apply to supply vessels
  • Adopt further amendments this year to modernize its VMS measure in line with global best practices
  • Implement the recommendation to increase the minimum level of observer coverage to 20%, and at the same time, strengthen compliance by identifying and sanctioning non-compliance through the Compliance Committee
  • Progress the development of standards for electronic monitoring and electronic reporting standards, as soon as possible

Read the full position statement in English, French or Spanish on the ISSF website. 


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