As we ready for the 20th annual meeting of the IOTC, our coalition has a list of things we would like to see member nations accomplish.
Date: May 3, 2016
Indian Ocean fishing nations are getting ready to meet for the 20th session of the Commission this May in La Reunion, France, and 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.
We have collected a library of videos, reports and blogs to help educate on the challenges and opportunities facing our global tuna resources and the greater marine ecosystem. So sit back and click your way through our priorities for Indian Ocean tuna fisheries.
Harvest strategies. Harvest control rules or 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.
In order to further progress the adoption of Harvest Strategies, ISSF urges the Commission to fully support the recommendation from the ongoing IOTC workshops promoting dialogue among scientists, managers and stakeholders related to the formulation of management objectives, and to provide assistance to developing members. A formal process for taking on recommendations from the dialogue process should be adopted. ISSF further urges the Commission to consider Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) outcomes for skipjack and albacore tuna endorsed by the Scientific Committee and adopt an appropriate Harvest Strategy that follows the decision framework, achieves targets and avoids breaching limits as set out in Resolution 15/10.
Closed Vessel Registries 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. The first step towards managing capacity is to establish limited entry via a comprehensive closed vessel registry with an eye towards ultimately reducing the number of fishing vessels to an appropriate level.
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.
ISSF urges the Commission to implement the recommendations of the second IOTC Performance Review on fishing capacity management and to consider the outcomes of the 2014 ISSF workshop. ISSF urges the Commission to amend Resolution 03/01 to create a comprehensive closed vessel registry.
Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) Management. Of the total tropical tuna catch by the purse seine fishery, sets on floating objects, including FADs, account for more than half total global landings. The time is ripe for a concerted global effort to gather and report to RFMOs data on FADs (e.g., via logbooks) in order to better monitor FAD usage and to establish a sound basis for their management in every ocean region.
ISSF notes further progress taken via establishment of a FAD Working Group to provide advice on the future management of both anchored and drifting FADs and applauds those IOTC fleets that have been providing FAD data consistent with the resolution on FAD management and reporting. To progress these efforts, ISSF urges the Commission to encourage members to provide these FAD data as outlined in Resolution 15/08 and also more detailed analysis of FAD usage patterns and catch per effort analysis by their fleets operating in the Indian Ocean. ISSF also urges the IOTC FAD Working Group to coordinate, collaborate and fully consider the activities, research results and advice presented at other tuna RFMOs regarding possible future management of both anchored and drifting FADs.
Finally, ISSF encourages all fleets to implement as soon as possible provisions regarding the use of non-entangling FADs designs to reduce the incidence of entanglement of bycatch species, using biodegradable material as much as possible, based on the principles outlined in Resolution – a critical step in the reduction of shark mortality and reduction of other ecosystem impacts in the Indian Ocean.
IOTC Conservation & Management Measures
Tuna Stocks. The 2015 assessment of Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna determined that the stock is overfished and experiencing overfishing, mostly because catches by longline, gillnet, handline and purse seine increased substantially since the 2012 assessment. The IOTC Scientific Committee projected that a 20% reduction in catch could rebuild the yellowfin stock to the MSY level with 50% probability by 2024 and recommended that a rebuilding plan for the stock should be driven by an agreed Management Procedure (Harvest Strategy), including Harvest Control Rules, and based on the agreed interim target and limit reference points.
ISSF therefore urges the IOTC to adopt measures to reduce the catches of yellowfin by longline, gillnet, handline and purse seine by at least 20% and supports the Scientific Committee recommendation regarding a rebuilding plan.
Sharks. The data on sharks in the Indian Ocean is extremely limited, preventing accurate assessments of the status of the region’s sharks. However even with the limited data that is available, it is clear that the abundance of some species is declining. To progress the adoption of science-based shark conservation and management measures, ISSF endorses the Scientific Committee’s recommendations that the Commission develop mechanisms to encourage members to comply with their data-reporting requirement and adopt sufficient measures to limit fishing mortality on sharks.
ISSF further urges immediate steps to enforce the existing Resolution on shark finning through the Compliance Committee, and strengthen that measure by requiring that all sharks be landed with fins naturally attached.
Purse Seine Observer Coverage. Comprehensive observer coverage on purse seine vessels is a critical component of sustainable fisheries monitoring and management for tropical tunas. The WCPFC and the IATTC have already implemented 100% coverage, and ICCAT has mandated it for the Gulf of Guinea FAD closure. It is past time for the IOTC to do the same.
ISSF again strongly urges the adoption of 100% observer coverage on large-scale tropical tuna purse seine fleets. Where human onboard observers are not possible for certain fleets or vessel sizes, the Commission should immediately explore electronic monitoring systems and establish policies and guidelines for their use.
Click here for a WWF-ISSF-Monterey Bay Aquarium blog on the importance of observers | Click here for a review of observer programs in purse seine vessels and related best practices | Click here to download electronic monitoring best practices | Click here for the report of a recent workshop on EMS in longline fisheries