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ISSF Statement on IOTC March 2021 Special Session

Indian Ocean Fisheries Managers Fail to Act for the Protection of Yellowfin Tuna Stocks

ISSF and its stakeholders called for immediate action by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) at its Special Session held virtually from March 8-12 to conserve the region’s overfished yellowfin stock. 

Regrettably, this IOTC Special Session failed in its one goal — to agree on a science-based and enforceable rebuilding plan to ensure the long-term sustainable management of the overfished yellowfin tuna stock. The IOTC Scientific Committee’s advice on what was needed to prevent further declines in this overfished stock went unheeded. 

We are disappointed that, once again, the Parties to the IOTC could not agree on a measure for managing such a critical resource. Delaying action until the June 2021 Commission Meeting risks further stock declines at a time when some nations already have exceeded existing inadequate yellowfin catch limits — and other parties are exempted from catch limits altogether. 

ISSF calls on IOTC Parties to work collaboratively between now and June to develop a robust, science-based and enforceable conservation measure to rebuild the Indian Ocean yellowfin stock in two generations. 

ISSF recognizes that the impacts of COVID-19 continue to challenge RFMOs in conducting their meetings but finds no reason that needed management action cannot be agreed to virtually. 

ISSF will continue to pursue all opportunities to help guide IOTC and all tuna RFMOs, member governments, industry, vessels, FIPs and NGOs on the complex issues we must navigate together for sustainable global tuna stocks and their ecosystems.