Each year, ISSF identifies priority actions for tropical-tuna regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) to take to improve fishery sustainability in their regions.
To shape RFMO discussion and decision-making, ISSF’s science and advocacy experts have outlined their concerns and advice for 2024. An updated ISSF web page offers an overview. ISSF position statements — which we disseminate ahead of RFMO annual meetings and special sessions — explore and expand on these priority topics.
In a video exploring the ISSF Strategic Plan, Continuously Improving Global Tuna Fishery Sustainability, ISSF President Susan Jackson reviews successes from our collaborative efforts to improve how tuna fisheries are managed—highlighting notable areas of progress like harvest strategies and FAD management.
Op-ed: Make 2024 the year that EM becomes ‘business as usual’ in global tuna fisheries
In a new article for World Fishing & Aquaculture, ISSF President Susan Jackson urges action to unlock the transformative impacts of electronic monitoring.
“Investing in EMS is a ‘no-brainer’,” she writes, “And the cost of EMS equipment continues to become more affordable for both vessel owners and authorities. Yet EMS implementation remains too low and too slow.”
An updated infographic reviews how tuna RFMOs are making progress in using electronic monitoring (EM) systems to provide on-board vessel monitoring, and other important information about this critical fisheries management tool.
ISSF’s Vessels in Other Sustainability Initiatives (VOSI) list now tracks if a vessel has installed, and is using, electronic monitoring systems (EMS). To be listed as such, vessels must meet the EM minimum system specifications and standards outlined in ISSF Technical Report 2022-09.
ISSF investigates and promotes science-based approaches for ensuring the long-term sustainability of global tuna stocks and the marine ecosystem.
The ISSF team works collaboratively with peer scientists, academics, environmental experts, governing bodies, and other stakeholders on issues where we can advance our understanding about sustainable fishing — and make a positive impact.
Tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) regulate transshipment in their regions. With some exceptions, purse seiners are required to transship in port. Other gears, such as longline, may engage in transshipment at sea under certain regulatory conditions. Tuna RFMOs also mandate observer coverage and require the submission of transshipment data.
But gaps persist — particularly in the regulation of at-sea transshipment, including the types of data collected, the level of monitoring, and data-reporting recipients and timelines. These gaps can increase the likelihood of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities that undermine fisheries management.
Vessels in Other Sustainability Initiatives (VOSI)
Like the ProActive Vessel Register (PVR), ISSF’s Vessels in Other Sustainability Initiatives (VOSI) list is a transparency tool for the public — including stakeholders that want to understand which tuna vessels have made public commitments to more sustainable fishing beyond the commitments reflected on the PVR.
VOSI is verified through a third-party audit process, and it shows if a vessel is:
Using only fully non-entangling FADs (with no netting)
Providing FAD echosounder biomass data
Participating in a FIP, and/or
Participating in a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fishery
Using electronic monitoring systems (EMS)
In addition, vessels that are participating in the MSC’s In-Transition to MSC (ITM) program can now be recognized on VOSI. The ITM program supports fisheries of all sizes and all locations to make measurable, independently verified progress towards certification against the MSC Fisheries Standard
Improving sustainable practices worldwide through continued collaboration with fishers
More than a decade of bottom-up collaborative workshops and research with fishers from the principal tropical tuna purse seine fleets to reduce ecological impacts associated with the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) has yielded improved sustainable fishing practices in all oceans.
This integrative effort is founded on participatory knowledge-exchange workshops organized by ISSF, where scientists, fishers, and key stakeholders examine and develop together ways and tools to minimize fishery impacts.
An updated map infographic shows the locations and extent of ISSF’s research with tuna fleets, including at-sea research cruises and biodegradable FAD projects, since 2011. Some of the research projects also have included government and NGO partners.
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), a sustainable fishing nonprofit organization, announced Thursday (Jan 18) that two members have been added to key committees. Ana Parma, who has joined the ISSF’s scientific advisory committee (SAC), is an expert in fisheries modeling, assessment and management. Read the article
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Ana Parma to the SAC and are confident that her broad experience in fisheries, including tuna, will be vitally important in continuing our efforts to identify and advocate for sustainable fishing practices,” said Susan Jackson, ISSF President.
The ISSF SAC is a diverse group of leading experts in fisheries science and tuna populations who offer guidance on organizational research priorities and support development of ISSF’s technical reports.
ISSF also welcomes Daniel Suddaby, Executive Director for the Global Tuna Alliance, as a new member to the ESC.
“Mr. Suddaby has two decades of experience that will prove greatly important to our collaborative work. We are thankful to have him be a part of our Environmental Stakeholder Committee and look forward to benefitting from his expertise in fisheries and marine conservation,” said Ms. Jackson.
85% of Global Tuna Catch Comes from Stocks at Healthy Levels
Of the total commercial tuna catch worldwide, 85% comes from stocks at “healthy” levels of abundance, according to the latest ISSF Status of the Stocks report. Overfished stocks accounted for 11% of the total catch, and 4% of the catch came from stocks at an intermediate level of abundance.
No individual stock statuses have changed since the March 2023 Status of the Stocks report. The latest report incorporates recent stock-assessment results for Western Pacific bigeye, Western Pacific yellowfin, North Pacific albacore, North Atlantic albacore, and Southern bluefin, none of which has changed. The lack of substantial changes in stock status between report periods highlights the value of continuous scientific assessments to inform stock-management decisions.
Interactive Stock Status and Catch Tool
Our interactive tool allows you to visualize current and historical data from ISSF’s Status of the Stocks report, which compiles scientific assessments of 23 commercial tuna stocks worldwide.
The tool has three tabs — one for visualizing tuna stock health since 2011, another for visualizing the current tuna catch by fishing method, and a third with catch trends by fishing method since 1950.
Jelly-FADs: Science Leads the Way on Improved FAD Design
ISSF is working to discover and promote best practices for an urgent change in fishing gear: the biodegradable fish aggregating device, or bio-FAD. Some of our most exciting work centers on “jelly-FADs”—bio-FADs designed in collaboration with a team of physical oceanographers.
Jelly-FADs are made of organic materials and are smaller than traditional models, yet they drift slowly, like jellyfish, so ocean currents are less likely to carry them too far afield. Both of those qualities will reduce their environmental impact if they are lost or abandoned.
An ISSF video offers a behind-the-scenes look at designing and testing jelly-FADs.
This year’s meeting brought some positive outcomes for Pacific Ocean tuna fisheries, including a harvest control rule for North Pacific albacore, the adoption of an updated tropical tuna conservation measure, and moderate progress on electronic monitoring and observer coverage. But the Commission’s work fell far short in other areas, especially regarding increasing transparency in WCPFC compliance assessment processes and improving fish aggregating device (FAD) management.
ISSF fisheries policy experts Holly Koehler and Claire van der Geest review outcomes of the WCPFC meeting against our organization’s most critical asks.
“Regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) need strong and transparent compliance processes in order to meet their objectives, strengthen their performance, and be accountable to their many and diverse stakeholders,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “Yet the WCPFC is the only tuna RFMO with a compliance assessment process that is closed to accredited observers. That’s why our position statement leads with a call for the Commission to develop guidelines for the observer participation in compliance assessment processes.”
RFMO Best Practices Snapshot — 2023: Compliance Processes
Our “snapshots” identify best practices that RFMOs should follow to manage tuna fisheries sustainably. This snapshot identifies best practices in compliance processes, and then shows each RFMO’s progress in implementing those practices.