Author: Sharon Tomasic

Indian Ocean Fisheries Managers Misstep on Yellowfin, Skipjack, FAD Management | ISSF Responds to IOTC Meeting Outcomes

Featured Blog

Indian Ocean Fisheries Managers Miss the Mark on Yellowfin, Skipjack Tuna, and Strengthening FAD Management, But Make Progress for Bigeye, Electronic Monitoring, and Transshipment 

ISSF joined a chorus of sustainable fisheries stakeholders in calling for immediate action to rebuild the overfished yellowfin stock at the recent Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) annual meeting. The protection of yellowfin tuna was priority number one. 

Unfortunately, the IOTC failed to answer this urgent call. The Commission did not reach agreement on amendments to its yellowfin resolution — amendments that were necessary to give full effect to the scientific advice to ensure an effective and enforceable rebuilding plan and secure the long-term sustainable management of overfished yellowfin.

A new blog by ISSF’s Dr. Hilario Murua and Holly Koehler provides a full review of the recent IOTC meeting.

Read the blog

 

Featured News

The Nature Conservancy’s Ben Gilmer Joins ISSF Environmental Stakeholder Committee

ISSF announced that Ben Gilmer, Associate Director of Corporate Engagement and Strategic Initiatives at The Nature Conservancy, will join its Environmental Stakeholder Committee (ESC). 

“Mr. Gilmer brings deep knowledge and experience in seafood systems and supply chain transparency to our strong cohort of conservation experts on the ESC,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “His record at The Nature Conservancy on transparency initiatives across the global fishing industry is strong, and we look forward to having his expert perspective on the Committee.” 

Learn more

 

Featured Resource

Vessels in Other Sustainability Initiatives (VOSI)

ISSF’s Vessels in Other Sustainability Initiatives (VOSI) lists vessels — of all gear types — that are fishing in a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified tuna fishery, participating in a tuna Fishery Improvement Project (FIP), or both.

Like the ProActive Vessel Register (PVR), VOSI is a transparency tool for the public, including stakeholders that want to understand which tuna vessels have made public commitments to sustainable fishing beyond the commitments reflected on the PVR.

View VOSI

The Nature Conservancy’s Ben Gilmer Joins Environmental Stakeholder Committee of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) announced today that Ben Gilmer, Associate Director of Corporate Engagement and Strategic Initiatives at The Nature Conservancy, will join its Environmental Stakeholder Committee (ESC). 

“Mr. Gilmer brings deep knowledge and experience in seafood systems and supply chain transparency to our strong cohort of conservation experts on the ESC,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “His record at The Nature Conservancy on transparency initiatives across the global fishing industry is strong, and we look forward to having his expert perspective on the Committee.” 

Ben Gilmer, Associate Director of Corporate Engagement and Strategic Initiatives at The Nature Conservancy @nature_org, has joined the ISSF Environmental Stakeholder Committee. Click To Tweet

Ben Gilmer serves as Associate Director of Corporate Engagement and Strategic Initiatives at The Nature Conservancy, where he is focused on seafood transparency initiatives in Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America. In this role, Mr. Gilmer supports governments and companies with policy and program development, partnerships, technology innovation, and fishery improvement project implementation.

He most recently served as CEO of Stuart Land & Cattle Company, a diversified agriculture company in Southwest Virginia, and founded Refresh Appalachia, a social enterprise that provided on-the-job training in sustainable agriculture to disadvantaged workers in the coalfields of Central Appalachia. Mr. Gilmer previously worked as a sustainability consultant to the Inter-American Development Bank and other clients and was a member of TNC’s Global Oceans team.

Mr. Gilmer has more than 15 years’ experience working in environmental conservation and food systems. His specialties include fisheries, agriculture, climate, technology, and community development. He has a Master’s degree from West Virginia University and a Bachelor’s degree from Radford University. 

About the ISSF Environmental Stakeholder Committee 

The ESC comprises expert representatives from various conservation organizations who volunteer to share their expertise. The ESC, much like ISSF’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), provides advice to the ISSF Board of Directors on issues to consider before taking action on specific sustainability efforts, including the adoption of ISSF conservation measures.

The ESC members are: 

  • Sonja Fordham, Founder, Shark Advocates International
  • Ben Gilmer, Associate Director of Corporate Engagement and Strategic Initiatives, The Nature Conservancy
  • Bill Holden, Chair, ISSF Environmental Stakeholder Committee | Senior Tuna Fisheries Outreach Manager, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
  • Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, Vice President, Global Ocean Initiatives, Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Sara Lewis, Traceability Division Director, FishWise
  • Dr. Vishwanie Maharaj, Lead, Tunas and Other Multilateral Fisheries, World Wildlife Fund-US
  • Dr. Alexia Morgan, Science Lead, Tuna and Large Pelagic Species, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP)
  • Dr. Tom Pickerell, Executive Director, Global Tuna Alliance

Helping Fisheries Better Monitor & Enforce Requirements

Featured Blog

Helping Fisheries Managers Better Monitor and Enforce Requirements for Member States

What good are regulations if they’re not followed? Why adopt policies without a strong plan to monitor adherence to them?  

In an era of greater expectations regarding transparency and accountability, these are the questions stakeholders are increasingly asking of RFMOs. And for tuna fisheries, a vital, global food source and economic engine, those expectations are especially heightened. Now, a group of policy experts is stepping in to help tuna RFMOs continue strengthening their compliance processes. 

Read the blog

 

A recently released report, Clear and Consistent Mechanisms with Predetermined Consequences Could Improve Compliance Systems Across Fisheries, shares outcomes of the third workshop in a series of expert workshops that seek to strengthen RFMO compliance mechanisms.

Read the report

 

Featured Content

Electronic Monitoring in RFMOs: A Journey Towards Transparency

“When we talk about verified transparency in the tuna industry, it all begins on the water. Tuna are highly migratory, and tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) are responsible for managing over 300 million square kilometers of ocean. Reliable monitoring at the surface of the ocean remains a challenging obstacle to achieving robust transparency and a fully traceable network within the supply chain.”

In ISSF’s recently released 2021 annual report Transparent Accountability Across Tuna Fisheries, ISSF Senior Scientist Dr. Hilario Murua reviews how electronic monitoring improves the science underpinning the sustainable use of resources and provides an update on each tuna RFMO’s progress in embracing this important tool.   

Read the feature article (scroll to read)

 

ISSF in the News

ISSF urges action on tuna
World Fishing and Aquaculture

Pushing for yellowfin catch reduction
FiskerForum

ISSF focusing on advancing sustainability of tuna fisheries
SeafoodSource

Fisheries research must go on—especially now
Hook & Net

 

 

 

ISSF Calls on Indian Ocean Fisheries Managers to Reduce Yellowfin Catch | PLUS Updated Tuna FIPs & MSC Tuna Fisheries Tables

Featured News

ISSF Calls on Indian Ocean Tuna Fisheries Managers to Reduce Yellowfin Catch

Foundation Includes Improved Skipjack and Bigeye Management, Strengthened FAD Management Measures, and More Among Top Asks for Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) Annual Meeting

ISSF has published a position statement ahead of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission’s (IOTC) annual meeting, which takes place May 16-20. The statement leads with the request for urgent and immediate steps to reduce catch of the yellowfin tuna in line with scientific advice.

Learn more

 

Featured Resource

UPDATED: Tuna FIPs & MSC Tuna Fisheries Tables

The ISSF website lists tuna fishery improvement projects (FIPs) that have profile pages on the FisheryProgress.org site. You can sort and filter the table by column.

Search the table

 

A second recently updated table shows tuna fisheries worldwide that either have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or are currently undergoing a full assessment to become certified. Helping tuna fisheries meet sustainability criteria to achieve the MSC certification standard — without conditions — is ISSF’s ultimate objective. You can sort or filter by column.

Search the table

 

Featured Content

ICYMI: ISSF 2021 Annual Report

ISSF released its 2021 annual report, titled Transparent Accountability Across Tuna Fisheries, which presents the organization’s commitment to the day-in-day-out work to achieve sustainable tuna fisheries, with a focus on verified transparency — a theme evident across all efforts, from ISSF’s work with industry partners to its advocacy appeals to Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs).

“The theme we’ve chosen for this year’s report — fostering greater transparency and accountability — could apply to ISSF’s work in any year. But it seems especially relevant now, as we emerge from a pandemic that underscored our dependence on science and responsibilities to each other,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson.

Transparent Accountability Across Tuna Fisheries reviews ISSF’s continued global collaborations, marine research projects, and advocacy efforts to identify and promote best practices in tuna and ocean conservation with fishers, tuna companies, and RFMOs. The report also covers ISSF’s activities with environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), scientific agencies, and more.

Learn more

 

ISSF in the News

ISSF strengthens conservation measures

Fish Focus

 

ISSF requires sharks landed with fins naturally attached 

Undercurrent News

 

ISSF Calls on Indian Ocean Tuna Fisheries Managers to Reduce Yellowfin Catch

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has published a position statement ahead of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission’s (IOTC) annual meeting, which takes place May 16-20, 2022. The statement leads with the request for urgent and immediate steps to reduce catch of the yellowfin tuna in line with scientific advice.

“Although the IOTC ultimately agreed on a new rebuilding measure for yellowfin tuna in 2021, the effectiveness of that measure is uncertain given the number of Commission members that objected to it,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “The situation is as just as urgent this year as it was in 2021. The yellowfin stock remains overfished, and catches continue to increase despite the rebuilding plan and catch reductions by some fleets under previous measures.

We're urging #IOTC to better protect #sharks and yellowfin, skipjack, and bigeye #tuna — and to improve FAD management and electronic monitoring standards. Click To Tweet

“And it’s not just yellowfin that are of concern. Catches of skipjack tuna in 2020 were higher than the annual catch limits set by the IOTC harvest control rule. The Commission must adopt an effective, enforceable rebuilding plan for yellowfin tuna that gives full effect to the advice of the IOTC Scientific Committee by reducing catches by at least 22%,” Jackson continued. “And for skipjack, the IOTC must ensure that catches in 2022 do not exceed the agreed annual limit. These actions are critical to ensuring the long-term sustainable management of these important tuna resources.”

Specifically, ISSF is calling on IOTC to: 

  • Adopt revisions to ensure the effective rebuilding of yellowfin tuna by reducing catches by at least 22% relative to the 2020 catch level; and address over-catches in contravention of specific IOTC resolutions
  • Ensure that catches of skipjack in 2022 do not exceed the limit set by the adopted harvest control rule
  • Adopt a bigeye tuna management procedure, and agree on permanent limit and target reference points for tropical and temperate tunas, particularly yellowfin
  • Strengthen fish aggregating device (FAD) management measures
  • Endorse the terms of references and work plan developed by the IOTC ad-hoc Working Group and accelerate work on electronic monitoring program standards
  • Amend the resolution to require fins naturally attached for sharks, irrespective of how they are landed

Read the full IOTC Position Statement on the ISSF website. A French translation of the statement is available.

ISSF Strengthens Conservation Measures for Tuna Companies | Board Adopts Changes to 3 Vessel-Focused Measures

Featured News

ISSF Strengthens Conservation Measures on Best Practices for Protecting Sharks, Sea Turtles, and Seabirds; Shark Finning Prevention; and FAD Management Policies

To facilitate continuous improvements toward the long term sustainability of global tuna fisheries, ISSF announced updates to ISSF conservation measures (CM) that help ensure best practices for protecting sharks, sea turtles and seabirds; advance shark-finning prevention; and address fish aggregating device (FAD) management.

“ISSF continuously evolves our science-based conservation measures that guide seafood companies and tuna fishers to more sustainable practices. The ISSF Board of Directors has adopted changes to three vessel-focused measures that serve to deepen each measure’s impact,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “First, in additionally requiring proof of implementation rather than proof of policy alone, for measures on protections for non-target species and shark finning prevention. And second, in making our conservation measure on FAD management policies more robust with the addition of data-reporting provisions.”

The amended ISSF conservation measures include:

Learn more

 

Position Statement

This ISSF position statement focuses on critical measures and issues on which the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) must take action at its meeting on May 16-20, 2022, which align with the ISSF global priorities for tuna RFMOs.

Download the IOTC position statement

 

Featured Report

Conservation Measures & Commitments Compliance Report

Included in ISSF’s recently released annual report Transparent Accountability Across Tuna Fisheries are results of the ISSF Annual Conservation Measures & Commitments Compliance Report.

The ISSF Annual Conservation Measures & Commitments Compliance Report shows a conformance rate of 99.6 percent by 25 ISSF participating companies as of March 2022.

Download the compliance report

 

ISSF Strengthens Conservation Measures on Best Practices for Protecting Sharks, Sea Turtles, and Seabirds; Shark Finning Prevention; and FAD Management Policies

To facilitate continuous improvements toward the long term sustainability of global tuna fisheries, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) today announced updates to ISSF conservation measures (CM) that help ensure best practices for protecting sharks, sea turtles and seabirds; advance shark-finning prevention; and address fish aggregating device (FAD) management.

“ISSF continuously evolves our science-based conservation measures that guide seafood companies and tuna fishers to more sustainable practices. The ISSF Board of Directors has adopted changes to three vessel-focused measures that serve to deepen each measure’s impact,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “First, in additionally requiring proof of implementation rather than proof of policy alone for measures on protections for non-target species and shark finning prevention. And second, in making our conservation measure on FAD management policies more robust with the addition of data-reporting provisions.”

The amended ISSF conservation measures include:

Bycatch Prevention: Marine Species in Longline Tuna Fisheries

Since its inception, ISSF has dedicated resources and efforts to understanding bycatch issues in global tuna fisheries and helping to minimize bycatch.

ISSF expanded bycatch-mitigation measure CM 3.6 – Transactions with Vessels Implementing Best Practices for Sharks, Sea Turtles and Seabirds that requires ISSF participating companies to conduct transactions only with those longline vessels whose owners have a public policy requiring the implementation of the following best practices for sharks, seabirds and marine turtles:

  1. The use of circle hooks and only monofilament lines (e.g., the use of wire trace is prohibited)
  2. The use of whole finfish bait
  3. Implementation by the crew of best practice handling techniques for sharks, seabirds and marine turtles such as those outlined in the ISSF Skippers’ Guidebook to Sustainable Longline Fishing Practices
  4. No use of “shark lines” at any time”

The new update to this measure requires proof of implementation of the public policy, beginning December 31, 2023.

Shark Finning Prevention: Requirement to Land Sharks with Fins Naturally Attached

Sharks can be caught incidentally in tuna fishing operations, especially in longline fisheries. Sharks are also often intentionally targeted by vessels for the value of their fins in certain markets. Shark finning — the practice of retaining shark fins onboard and discarding the remaining carcasses at sea — threatens shark populations and violates the U.N. FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and its International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks.

ISSF is strengthening its existing shark-finning measure 3.1(c) – Prohibition of Transactions with Companies without a Public Policy Prohibiting Shark Finning that requires ISSF participating companies to refrain from transactions with companies that do not have a public policy prohibiting shark finning and requiring sharks be landed with fins naturally attached, if retained.

The new update to this measure requires proof of implementation of the public policy beginning July 1, 2023 for purse seine vessels and December 31, 2023 for longline vessels.

Marine Ecosystem Protections: FAD Management and Data Reporting

ISSF is committed to supporting better FAD management, globally, and recognizes that it is an important component of meeting the MSC Standard without conditions. CM 3.7 – Transactions with Vessels or Companies with Vessel-based FAD Management Policies requires that ISSF participating companies conduct transactions only with those purse seine vessels whose owners develop and make public FAD Management Policies that include the activities purse seine and supply vessels are undertaking (if any) on the following elements:

  1. Comply with flag state and RFMO reporting requirements for fisheries statistics by set type.
  2. Report additional FAD buoy data (FAD daily position data and echosounder acoustic records) for use by RFMO science bodies.
  3. Support science-based limits on the overall number of FADs used per vessel and/or FAD sets made.
  4. Use only non-entangling FADs to reduce ghost fishing.
  5. Mitigate other environmental impacts due to FAD loss including through the use of biodegradable FADs and FAD recovery policies.
  6. For silky sharks (the main bycatch issue in FAD sets), implement further mitigation efforts.

The measure is amended to add two new reporting requirements:

  • With respect to the element on reporting additional FAD buoy daily position data for use by RFMO science bodies (item b above), by 1 January 2023, public FAD Management Policies developed under this measure shall include a statement that purse seine vessels and supply vessels covered by the policy are reporting FAD position data to the relevant RFMO science bodies and/or national scientific institutions and/or its flag State, with a maximum time lag of 90 days. In the event that purse seine vessels and supply vessels covered by the policy report these data to national scientific institutions and/or its flag State, they shall document that they requested that these data be made available to the relevant RFMO for scientific purposes.
  • With respect to the element on reporting additional FAD buoy echosounder acoustic biomass data for use by RFMO science bodies (item b above), by 1 January 2024, public FAD Management Policies developed under this measure shall include a statement that purse seine vessels and supply vessels covered by the policy are reporting FAD echosounder biomass data to the relevant RFMO science bodies and/or national scientific institutions and/or its flag State, with a maximum time lag of 90 days. In the event that purse seine vessels and supply vessels covered by the policy report these data to national scientific institutions and/or its flag State, they shall document that they requested that these data be made available to the relevant RFMO for scientific purposes.

About ISSF Conservation Measures & Compliance Process

Since its inception in 2009, ISSF has adopted conservation measures and commitments to facilitate its mission with the intent that processors, traders, marketers and others involved in the seafood industry will follow them to facilitate real and continuous improvement across global tuna stocks. Each ISSF participating company commits to conforming to these conservation measures to improve the long-term health of tuna fisheries. They also must adhere to the ISSA Compliance Policy.

ISSF participating tuna companies, which represent the majority of the world’s canned tuna production and include well-known brand names, are audited yearly by MRAG Americas on their compliance with ISSF conservation measures.

ISSF recently released its ISSF Annual Conservation Measures & Commitments Compliance Report, which ISSF published in coordination with its recent annual report Transparent Accountability Across Tuna Fisheries. The compliance report showed a conformance rate of 99.6 percent by 25 ISSF participating companies as of March 2022.

In addition to a summary report, MRAG Americas issues individual company reports that detail each organization’s compliance with ISSF’s conservation measures. ISSF publishes these individual company compliance reports on its website.

 

 

ISSF Publishes 2021 Annual Report Highlighting Accomplishments for Tuna Fisheries

Featured News

ISSF 2021 Annual Report

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) released its 2021 annual report, titled Transparent Accountability Across Tuna Fisheries, which presents the organization’s commitment to the day-in-day-out work to achieve sustainable tuna fisheries, with a focus on verified transparency — a theme evident across all efforts, from ISSF’s work with industry partners to its advocacy appeals to Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs).

“The theme we’ve chosen for this year’s report — fostering greater transparency and accountability — could apply to ISSF’s work in any year. But it seems especially relevant now, as we emerge from a pandemic that underscored our dependence on science and responsibilities to each other,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “Openness and responsiveness are embedded in our organizational DNA: ISSF exists because eight forward-thinking seafood companies in 2009 were willing to put themselves on the line to learn from fisheries scientists about how to become better stewards of the sea.”

Transparent Accountability Across Tuna Fisheries reviews ISSF’s continued global collaborations, marine research projects, and advocacy efforts to identify and promote best practices in tuna and ocean conservation with fishers, tuna companies, and RFMOs. The report also covers ISSF’s activities with environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), scientific agencies, and more.
 
 

Conservation Measures & Commitments Compliance Report
 
Also included in Transparent Accountability Across Tuna Fisheries are results of the ISSF Annual Conservation Measures & Commitments Compliance Report, which ISSF publishes in coordination with the annual report.
 
The ISSF Annual Conservation Measures & Commitments Compliance Report shows a conformance rate of 99.6 percent by 25 ISSF participating companies as of March 2022.