The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has released its position statement in advance of the 19th Session Meeting of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) in Busan, Korea on 27 April – 1 May.
At the top of the statement, ISSF urges IOTC to adopt reference points and harvest control rules, create closed vessel registries, address fleet capacity issues and improve the region’s management of fish aggregating devices (FADs).
“IOTC has a long road ahead to bring its sustainability and compliance measurements up to speed with modern day standards,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “Leading scientists in the region agree that more must be done regarding stock health, controlling capacity, gear management, shark protections and monitoring, control and surveillance.”
“With regards to data collection on FADs and sharks, IOTC is behind their counterparts in some of the other regions and even when sound measures are adopted in the IO region, compliance issues have sometimes gotten in the way of their effectiveness,” she continued. “IOTC has shown a willingness to move their fisheries forward into a science-based management structure, but we’d like to see them implement a more deliberate and consistent strategy across key management areas.”
Some of the improvements advocated for in the ISSF position statement include:
IOTC adopt reference points, particularly those based on biomass depletion models in the absence of sufficient data for MSY based reference points;
ISSF encourages the IOTC to consider the outcomes of the 2014 ISSF Workshop on the Transfer of Capacity from developed to developing countries in any regional capacity management scheme;
ISSF applauds those IOTC fleets that have been providing FAD data consistent with the Resolution 13/08 regarding FAD management and reporting, but some CPCs have not reported this data and should do so;
ISSF urges the IOTC to adopt measures to prevent overfishing of vulnerable species (including albacore, swordfish, marlins, and longtail tuna), such as reducing catches by at least 20 per cent from the current level;
All sharks should be landed with fins naturally attached and adopt measures to limit fishing mortality on sharks;
IOTC should consider expanding their transshipment measure to include the reporting of in-port transshipment by all vessels;
IOTC should develop a regional satellite-based vessel monitoring system because for many fleets implementation of and compliance with the existing VMS resolution is very low and it is not an effective MCS tool;
Consider freezing catch and effort by gillnet fisheries until sufficient data is collected about their impact;
All FAD-directed purse seine fisheries should be required to change to using only non-entangling FADs; and
In an effort to address capacity issues, ISSF urges the IOTC to establish limited entry through closed vessel registries among other capacity reducing measures.