28 October 2014
Atlantic and Mediterranean fishing nations are getting ready to come together for the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the region’s tuna regional fishery management organization (RFMO). Our coalition has a list of things we would like to see member nations accomplish. You can download our position statement here or you can use this page filled with interactive links to learn more about the issues that matter most.
Harvest Control Rules (HCRs) and Reference Points HCRs are a set of well-defined management actions to be taken in response to changes in stock status with respect to target and limit reference points. Unless there is a pre-agreed upon action plan for avoiding overfishing or for rebuilding an overfished stock, long negotiations lead to delayed action or inaction. The adoption of HCRs is a key aspect of modern fisheries management.
ISSF applauds the successful first meeting of the Standing Working Group for Enhancing the Dialogue Between Fisheries Scientists and Managers (SWGSM) in 2014. ISSF now urges the Commission to take this work into consideration for the establishment of target and limit reference points and a HCR for North Atlantic albacore.
Closed Vessel Registries, IMO Numbers and Management of Fleet Capacity Experts agree that there is overcapacity in the global tuna fleets. Fishing fleet overcapacity increases pressure to weaken management measures and eventually leads to stock overexploitation.
To underscore this importance of this issue, in October ISSF clarified its Resolution to Limit the Growth in Fishing Capacity of the Global Large-Scale Tropical Tuna Purse Seine Fleet. Through this Resolution, ISSF Participating Companies must refrain from transactions in skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin tuna caught by large scale purse seine vessels that are not actively fishing for tuna, or under contract for construction, as of December 31, 2012 or a replacement for an existing vessel.
ISSF supports the Kobe III call for a freeze in purse seine fishing capacity by developed fishing nations and creating mechanisms to transfer capacity to developing countries with aspirations to participate in these fisheries. Given the importance of a mechanism to transfer capacity from developed to developing countries to any regional capacity management scheme, ISSF hosted a Workshop in March 2014 to start a dialogue among stakeholders on this issue. ISSF hopes this Workshop and dialog will contribute to progressing capacity management in the tuna RFMOs.
Click here to review the Capacity Transfer Workshop Report.
ISSF applauds the adoption of Recommendation 13-13 in 2013 that requires by January 1, 2016 vessels to have an IMO number or a number in the seven-digit numbering sequence allocated by IHS-Fairplay (LR number) to be included in the ICCAT Record of Vessels. Now all four of the tropical tuna RFMOs require IMO numbers of eligible vessels in order to be included on the RFMO regional vessel records.
Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) Management ISSF notes the substantial progress made by ICCAT through the 2013 adoption of amendments to Recommendation 11-01 regarding FAD management and reporting. ISSF strongly supports the SCRS recommendation for the creation of a Working Group on FADs that involves all stakeholders and urges all CPCs, if they have not already done so, to provide these data starting 1 January 2015. ISSF also encourages the Commission to adopt a marking scheme for identifying individual FADs.
ISSF also strongly supports the ICCAT provisions that promote the use of non-entangling FADs (FAD designs to reduce the incidence of entanglement of bycatch species, using biodegradable material as much as possible). ISSF encourages all CPCs to take this step as soon as possible and to undertake research on the effectiveness of various FAD designs. This is a critical step in the reduction of shark mortality and reduction of other ecosystem impacts in the Atlantic Ocean.
ICCAT Conservation & Management Measures
Tropical Tunas The current management plan for tropical tunas (Recs. 11-01 and 13-01, primarily focused on bigeye and yellowfin) expires at the end of 2015, ISSF urges the Commission to extend the measures at least through 2016, by which time the stocks of bigeye and yellowfin will have been re-assessed.
Temperate Tunas The 2014 stock assessments of bluefin tuna indicate that the stocks are rebuilding under ICCAT management plans. ISSF urges the Commission to adopt TACs consistent with SCRS advice that will continue the rebuilding programs. Serious data deficiencies for the Mediterranean albacore stock have been highlighted by the SCRS for several years, but have not been addressed by CPCs. ISSF urges the CPCs identified by SCRS to review their historical data for Mediterranean albacore and submit revisions to SCRS.
Sharks ISSF urges CPCs to follow the SCRS recommendation to report fishery statistics of all ICCAT and non- ICCAT fisheries capturing pelagic sharks. Furthermore, ISSF is urging all tuna RFMOs to adopt measures to prohibit deliberate purse seine setting around whale sharks (ICCAT is the only tuna RFMO not yet to have done so), and a requirement that fins remain naturally attached until the shark is landed. ISSF also urges ICCAT to to undertake an assessment of blue sharks, shortfin makos and common thresher sharks so that catch or effort limits, reference points and HCRs can be established.
Full Retention of Catch While other tuna RFMOs have adopted tuna catch retention measures, to date ICCAT has not taken steps to do the same. The dumping of less valuable tuna in favor of higher value catch distorts our understanding of the actual impact on the tuna stocks by fishing operations. ISSF urges ICCAT to adopt comprehensive catch retention measures for all tunas.
Observer Coverage for large-scale purse seiners Comprehensive observer coverage on purse seine vessels is a critical component of sustainable fisheries management. ISSF urges ICCAT to adopt a 100% observer coverage on large-scale purse seiners in its tropical tuna fisheries to cover the entire year as the IATTC and WCPFC have done. This would be facilitated if it included a regional mechanism that provides that an observer from a coastal State national program (registered with the Secretariat) will be valid in other countries’ EEZs.
In order to assist RFMOs and CPCs in developing or strengthening their national, regional or sub-regional human observer programs for purse seine vessels, and to ensure that observer programs worldwide are striving to reach the same set of high standards, ISSF recently published a technical paper that includes a set of best practices.
Compliance ICCAT has one of the best designed and most transparent compliance assessment process of the five tuna RFMOs. The one area where it can improve, however, is regarding its scheme of responses to non-compliance. The Compliance Committee (CoC) is currently using such a scheme only on a pilot basis. ISSF urges the Commission to finalize the development of a scheme of responses to non-compliance and codify it in a permanent Recommendation, as soon as possible.
Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) ISSF recommends that purse seine and longline vessels participate in VMS programs that meet global standards. To assist CPCs and RFMOs in achieving this goal, ISSF has released a technical paper that surveys the VMS programs in RFMOs, and identifies a set of best practice elements for States and RFMOS to use in developing or strengthening VMS programs for fishing vessels.
This technical paper highlights a number of areas in which the current ICCAT VMS provisions fall short of global best practices. Therefore, the ICCAT Integrated Monitoring Measures (IMM) Working Group recommendation to amend Recommendation 03-14 on VMS to change the current 6-hour transmission rate to 4 hours is a positive step forward. ISSF urges ICCAT to adopt this amendment this year, and take further steps to modernize its VMS measure in 2015 to bring it in line with global best practices.
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 https://iss-foundation.org/.