Author: Sharon Tomasic

ISSF Publishes 2021 Annual Report Highlighting Accomplishments for Tuna Fisheries

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) released its 2021 annual report today, 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.”

ISSF has released its 2021 annual report, titled Transparent Accountability Across Tuna Fisheries, which includes features on electronic monitoring and the seafood supply chain. Click To Tweet

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.

Jackson continued, “This long-term perspective and commitment to continuous improvement remain fundamental to ISSF’s guiding objective: helping tuna fisheries meet the  Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard without conditions. Transparency and accountability can take many forms, but both hinge on gathering, disseminating, analyzing, and activating data. We can’t make adjustments or fill gaps until we know where or why something is broken, what is missing, or whether previous actions or interventions have been effective.”

“Transparent Accountability Across Tuna Fisheries” Highlights

The report includes feature articles examining two of the most pressing topics related to more sustainable tuna fisheries today: electronic monitoring and supply chain transparency. Dr. Hilario Murua, ISSF Senior Scientist, authored “Electronic Monitoring in RFMOs — A Journey Towards Transparency.”

Dr. Tom Pickerell, Executive Director of the Global Tuna Alliance and Member of the ISSF Environmental Stakeholder Committee, contributed “Commitments and Credibility in the Tuna Supply Chain.”

Video content and downloadable graphics are available throughout the report, which also highlights these milestone ISSF accomplishments last year:

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. It tracks companies’ progress in conforming with ISSF’s thirty-two conservation measures (CM) such as these:

Two measures were newly in effect for the 2021 audit period, and all 25 companies were in full conformance with them:

As part of its commitment to transparency and accountability, ISSF engages third-party auditor MRAG Americas to audit participating companies to assess their compliance with ISSF’s conservation measures. MRAG Americas conducts independent auditing based on a rigorous audit protocol.

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.

 

 

 

 

Jelly FAD

FAD Resource Roundup: Reports, Blog, & Videos | New Jelly-FADs Footage

Featured Research

Jelly-FADs: Science Leads on Improved FAD Design

ISSF is working to discover and advocate for best practices for an urgent change in fishing gear: the biodegradable fish aggregating device, or bio-FAD. As Dr. Gala Moreno writes, some of ISSF’s 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.

Learn more

 

Featured Content

REPORT: Questions and Answers About FADs and Bycatch

How does the bycatch of non-target species in purse seine fisheries compare to other major global fisheries? Do sets on FADs and other fishing methods catch juvenile tunas? What are their impacts?

These questions are examples of the many timely inquiries addressed in the ISSF technical report, Questions and Answers About FADs and Bycatch. Illustrated throughout with charts and graphics, the report reflects the latest tuna fisheries data.

Read the report

A related blog by Dr. Victor Restrepo, Reviewing Progress on the Path to Better Designed, Better Managed FADs, reviews the efforts of ISSF, together with research, NGO, and industry partners, to ensure that FAD fisheries are sustainable for the long term.

Read the blog

 

Featured Videos

Jelly-FADs

Take a behind-the-scenes look at research on the latest FAD innovation.

Watch


Fact Checking on FADs

An ISSF video examines six frequently discussed ideas on FADs.

Watch

 

 

ICYMI: Global Tuna Fisheries & the MSC Standard | Report Shows 6 Stocks Earn Passing MSC P1 Score; Most RFMOs Score Well on P3

Featured Content

17 Tuna Stocks Not Meeting Criteria for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Sustainability Standard

Updated report reveals that six stocks achieve passing score on MSC Principle 1, and most tuna RFMOs score well on MSC Principle 3

Fisheries scientists in ISSF 2022-03: An Evaluation of the Sustainability of Global Tuna Stocks Relative to Marine Stewardship Council Criteria found that six out of 23 major commercial tuna stocks worldwide are successfully avoiding overfishing when measured against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard and maintaining target stock biomass levels. These stocks include North Atlantic albacore, South Atlantic albacore, Eastern Atlantic bluefin, Western Pacific skipjack, Eastern Pacific yellowfin, and Indian Ocean skipjack, all of which earned a passing score for the MSC Fisheries Standard on its Principle 1: “Sustainable Fish Stocks.” Under Principle 3: “Effective Management,” most tuna regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) scored well.

MSC is an independent, international, non-profit organization that oversees a program to assess global wild-capture fisheries and certify them as “sustainable” if they meet its Fisheries Standard criteria. In the February 2021 edition of the report, 7 stocks passed Principle 1. In this year’s report, one less stock received a passing score, specifically South Pacific albacore. Principle 3 evaluations remained unchanged for the most part.

Learn more

 

Featured Graphic

An updated graphic, based on data from the report, shows what the average scores based on Principle 1 have been since 2013, and how they have changed over time.

The MSC’s Principle 1 states: “A fishery must be conducted in a manner that does not lead to overfishing or depletion of the exploited populations and, for those populations that are depleted, the fishery must be conducted in a manner that demonstrably leads to their recovery.”

View the graphic

A second graphic has been updated to show what the average scores for each tuna RFMO based on Principle 3 have been from December 2013–January 2022.

The MSC’s Principle 3 states: “The fishery is subject to an effective management system that respects local, national and international laws and standards and incorporates institutional and operational frameworks that require use of the resource to be responsible and sustainable.”

View the graphic

 

ISSF in the News

Increasing the Sustainability of Fishing 

Farmer’s Review Africa

 

ISSF report finds global tuna stock abundance getting worse

Seafood Source

 

¿Puede ser sostenible la pesca de atún sobre plantados?

Azul Sostenible

 

 

UPDATED REPORT: Tuna RFMOs & the Port State Measures Agreement | IUU-Mitigation Gaps & Opportunities

Featured Content  

Updated Report Benchmarks Tuna RFMO Performance against the U.N. FAO Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA)

From minimum standards for inspector training to advance notice of port entry, report identifies IUU-mitigation gaps and opportunities

ISSF has updated its report Port State Measures in Tuna RFMOs: Benchmarking RFMO Port State Measures Against the 2009 FAO PSMA and Identifying Gaps, which evaluates how well the port-State measures established by tuna regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) follow an overarching international standard enacted to deter illegal, unreported, and unreported (IUU) fishing. In 2009, the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) — a binding international agreement — was adopted through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

“For more than a decade, the PSMA has set the standard for port States to detect and investigate IUU fishing, report on their inspections, and share data to prevent illegally caught fish from entering the seafood supply chain. But in order for this to work effectively globally, stronger and more consistent implementation is needed by all port States,” explained report author Holly Koehler, Vice President, Policy & Outreach, International Seafood Sustainability Foundation. 

Read the report

 

Featured Graphic  

Key Gaps and Priorities in Tuna RFMO Port State Measures

A complementary, updated graphic compares each tuna RFMO’s port state measure elements against the provisions in the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), identifying gaps between them and recommending priority areas for RFMO focus.

View the graphic

 

ISSF in the News 

Op-ed: Top challenges facing sustainable seafood
SeafoodSource

Eastern Pacific skipjack rating change drives fall in number of ‘healthy’ tuna stocks
Undercurrent News

UPDATE: 80.5% of Global Tuna Catch Comes from Stocks at Healthy Levels | Report Rates State of Tuna Stocks Worldwide

Featured News

80.5% of Global Tuna Catch Comes from Stocks at Healthy Levels; 9.2% Require Stronger Management

Of the total commercial tuna catch worldwide, 80.5% is sourced from stocks at “healthy” levels of abundance, according to the newest International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) Status of the Stocks report. In addition, 9.2% of the total tuna catch came from overfished stocks, and 10.3% came from stocks at an intermediate level of abundance.

The decrease in the overall percentage of the catch coming from stocks at healthy levels of abundance, from 87.7% in the September 2021 report to 80.5% in the March 2022 update, is mainly attributed to a change in the rating of the Eastern Pacific skipjack stock, which represents about 6% of the global tuna catch.

Learn more

 

Featured Report

Biology & Stock Status of Minor Commercial Tunas

Among the 15 species of tunas, eight are called “minor” or “neritic” tunas due to their lower commercial value. Despite this “minor” label, these tunas are exploited commercially and/or caught recreationally and are an important source of nutrition for coastal communities and income for coastal artisanal and subsistence fisheries.

As compared to their commercial counterparts, there is greater uncertainty regarding catch levels and stock characteristics of minor tunas, limiting data to assess fishery impact on stock status. A report summarizes knowledge about the biology, stock structure, and recent catch of minor tunas; the main fisheries and fishing gears catching them; and their stock status in different oceans. The report also reviews available information on life-history characteristics, fisheries, and stock status, while identifying knowledge gaps that can inform research priorities.

Download the report

 

Featured Tool

Interactive Stock Status Tool

This interactive tool allows you to visualize current and historical data from ISSF’s Status of the Stocks report, which scientifically assesses 23 commercial tuna stocks worldwide. The tool has two tabs — one for visualizing tuna stock health since 2011, and another for visualizing the current tuna catch by fishing method.

Access the interactive tool

80.5% of Global Tuna Catch Comes from Stocks at Healthy Levels; 9.2% Require Stronger Management

Of the total commercial tuna catch worldwide, 80.5% is sourced from stocks at “healthy” levels of abundance, according to the newest International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) Status of the Stocks report. In addition, 9.2% of the total tuna catch came from overfished stocks, and 10.3% came from stocks at an intermediate level of abundance.

The decrease in the overall percentage of the catch coming from stocks at healthy levels of abundance, from 87.7% in the September 2021 report to 80.5% in the March 2022 update, is mainly attributed to a change in the rating of the Eastern Pacific skipjack stock, which represents about 6% of the global tuna catch. The report downgrades that stock from a green to a yellow color rating. IATTC has not conducted a conventional assessment of skipjack tuna since 2012, so its status is uncertain. In addition, fishery indicators show an increase in fishing mortality in the floating-object (or FAD) fishery and a historical low level in skipjack average size, adding to the uncertainty of the actual stock status. ISSF urges the IATTC to conduct a conventional stock assessment as soon as possible.

Globally, 61% of 23 major commercial #tuna stocks are at healthy levels of abundance, 26% are at an intermediate level, and 13% are overfished. Download our latest Status of the Stocks report for details. Click To Tweet

Other changes in tuna stock status since the previous ISSF Status of the Stocks report include:

  • The Atlantic Ocean bigeye stock improved its spawning biomass status from orange to yellow and its fishing mortality status from orange to green.
  • The Mediterranean albacore stock’s spawning biomass status was downgraded from yellow to orange, and its fishing mortality rating was demoted from green to orange.

Several tuna stocks are considered overfished and/or subject to overfishing:

  • Indian Ocean yellowfin, Pacific bluefin tuna and Mediterranean albacore stocks are overfished and subject to overfishing.
  • Indian Ocean albacore and bigeye stocks are subject to overfishing.

In the new version of the report, the Management section in all stocks has been organized into two sections: “Harvest Strategy,” with a summary of the harvest strategy components agreed to date, and “Management Measures,” where all other management and conservation measures are described. 

ISSF publishes its signature Status of the Stocks report twice each year using the most current scientific data on 23 major commercial tuna stocks.

Key Statistics in the Report

  • ​​Abundance or “spawning biomass” levels: Globally, 61% of the 23 stocks are at healthy levels of abundance, 26% are at an intermediate level, and 13% are overfished.
  • Fishing mortality levels: 69.6% of the 23 stocks are experiencing a well-managed fishing mortality rate and 21.7% are experiencing overfishing.
  • Total catch: The catch of major commercial tuna stocks was 4.9 million tonnes in 2020, about 10% lower than in 2019. 57% was skipjack tuna, followed by yellowfin (30%), bigeye (8%), and albacore (4%). Bluefin tuna accounted for 1% of the global catch.
  • Largest tuna catches by stock: The five largest catches in tonnes, unchanged since the previous report, are Western Pacific Ocean skipjack, Western Pacific Ocean yellowfin, Indian Ocean skipjack, Indian Ocean yellowfin, and Eastern Pacific Ocean skipjack.
  • Tuna production by fishing gear: 66% of the catch is made by purse seining (approximately 36% associated or FAD sets, 27% unassociated or free school sets, and 3% dolphin sets), followed by longline (10%), pole-and-line (7%), gillnets (4%), and miscellaneous gears (13%). These percentages changed minimally since the previous report.

The Status of the Stocks report is reviewed by the ISSF Scientific Advisory Committee, which provides advice on its content. The report does not advocate any particular seafood purchase decisions.

The Pandemic’s Impact on the Status of the Stocks  

The March 2022 Status of the Stocks is the fourth update of the report since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact the work of the RFMOs. RFMOs have issued exemptions to certain monitoring requirements such as observer coverage. As such, the report’s summaries of management measures for the stocks, particularly in relation to observer coverage, may not be completely accurate in reflecting the monitoring that is ongoing during this exceptional period.

The report includes updated catch data and the latest changes to stock status and management as of early March 2022.

About the Report

There are 23 stocks of major commercial tuna species worldwide — 6 albacore, 4 bigeye, 4 bluefin, 5 skipjack, and 4 yellowfin stocks. The Status of the Stocks summarizes the results of the most recent scientific assessments of these stocks, as well as the current management measures adopted by the RFMOs. Updated twice per year, Status of the Stocks assigns color ratings (green, yellow or orange) using a consistent methodology based on three factors: Abundance, Exploitation/Management (fishing mortality), and Environmental Impact (bycatch).

ISSF produces two Status of the Stocks reports annually to provide clarity about where we stand — and how much more needs to be done — to ensure the long-term sustainability of tuna stocks. The Status of the Stocks presents a comprehensive analysis of tuna stocks by species, and the Evaluation of the Sustainability of Global Tuna Stocks Relative to Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Criteria provides scores for the stocks and RFMOs based on MSC assessment criteria. The MSC-certified fisheries list (Appendix 2) in Status of the Stocks complements the Evaluation report. Together, these tools help to define the continuous improvement achieved, as well as the areas and issues that require more attention.

In addition, ISSF maintains a data-visualization tool based on its Status of the Stocks report. The “Interactive Stock Status Tool” is located on the ISSF website and accessible through the Status of the Stocks overview page; users can easily toggle through tuna abundance and exploitation health indicators by catch or stock and filter by location and species as well as be informed about the share of total catch by species/stocks and gear types.

RESOURCE ROUND UP: Public Vessel Lists | Tuna Fisheries Transparency Tools

Featured Resource

The ProActive Vessel Register (PVR) & Vessels in Other Sustainability Initiatives (VOSI)

The ProActive Vessel Register (PVR) is one of four public vessel lists that ISSF makes available on its website to foster transparency in tuna fishing. Fishing vessels can register on the PVR to show how they are following a suite of science-based best practices that support sustainable tuna fisheries.

Access the PVR

In addition to the PVR, ISSF maintains three other public, global, and searchable vessel lists, including our newest, the Vessels in Other Sustainability Initiatives (VOSI) list — a first-of-its-kind searchable, online list of vessels worldwide that are fishing in a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified tuna fishery and/or participating in a tuna Fishery Improvement Project (FIP). 

Stakeholders who want to identify vessels that have made sustainability commitments can consult VOSI and download its vessel data to their desktops. Users can search and filter the vessel list and view pop-up profiles for each vessel that include radio call sign, year built, vessel dimensions, and more. Each record in VOSI:

  • Displays a vessel’s Unique Vessel Identifier (UVI) number and UVI type along with vessel flag and vessel type
  • Indicates whether the vessel is listed in the PVR and/or the ISSF Record of Large-Scale Purse Seine Vessels
  • Links to information about the MSC-certified fishery and/or FIP the vessel is in

Like the PVR, all vessels listed on VOSI are subject to regular third-party audits conducted by MRAG Americas, and the audit protocol is available on the ISSF website.

View VOSI and ISSF’s other vessel lists

 

Featured Infographic

PVR Growth by Vessel Type

This infographic shows how the PVR has grown from its inception in 2012 through 2021, both in number and type of vessel (handline, longline, pole & line, purse seine, supply & tender).

View the graphic

 

Featured ISSF Conservation Measures

Since our inception in 2009, ISSF has adopted science-based conservation measures with the intent that processors, traders, importers, transporters, and others in the seafood industry commit to conform to them to facilitate real, continuous improvement across global tuna stocks.

We publish regular reports, prepared by auditor MRAG Americas, on each participating company’s compliance with our measures. 

As indicated on our website, many ISSF conservation measures are linked to the PVR — either as a best practice tracked on the list itself, or as a requirement for a vessel’s listing — and six measures are specifically categorized as PVR measures.

View all ISSF conservation measures

View measures in the ProActive Vessel Register category

 

REPORT: Biology & Stock Status of Minor Commercial Tunas | PLUS Electronic Monitoring in Tuna Fisheries

Featured Report

Biology & Stock Status of Minor Commercial Tunas

Among the 15 species of tunas, eight are called “minor” or “neritic” tunas – including the bullet, black skipjack, and longtail species, for example – due to their lower commercial value. Despite this “minor” label, these tunas are exploited commercially and/or caught recreationally and are an important source of nutrition for coastal communities and income for coastal artisanal and subsistence fisheries.

As compared to their commercial counterparts, there is greater uncertainty regarding catch levels and stock characteristics of minor tunas, limiting data to assess fishery impact on stock status. A new report summarizes knowledge about the biology, stock structure, and recent catch of minor tunas; the main fisheries and fishing gears catching them; and their stock status in different oceans. The report also reviews available information on life-history characteristics, fisheries, and stock status, while identifying knowledge gaps that can inform research priorities.

Download the report

 

Featured Infographic

Minimum Standards for Electronic Monitoring

In a recent Seafood Source op-ed, Holly Koehler, VP, Policy & Outreach, ISSF, wrote, “When it comes to monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing operations at sea, electronic monitoring (EM) and electronic reporting (ER) systems are proven, effective tools. EM/ER systems can remotely monitor vessel activity on the water; provide important scientific data in a timely manner; and independently verify reported catch and effort data. Unfortunately, no RFMOs have put in place electronic monitoring programs.”

Based on the ISSF report ISSF 2018-04: Minimum Standards for Electronic Monitoring in Tropical Tuna Purse Seine Fisheries, an infographic shows how purse-seine tuna vessels should configure and operate their electronic monitoring systems (EMS). It indicates which features and processes should be in place before, during, and after the fishing trip. 

View the graphic

Download the report

Read the Seafood Source op-ed
 

ISSF in the News

Watch: ISSF’s president on the state of sustainable tuna fishing in 2022 
Undercurrent News

The case for industry transparency in supporting sustainable tuna fisheries
Marine Policy

Pesquerías de atunes tropicales, ¿sostenibles en todos los océanos?
Azul Sostenible Tv

 

REPORT: Responsible Fishing Guidelines for Longline Fisheries | PLUS Updated Tuna FIPs & MSC Tuna Fisheries Tables

Featured Report

ISSF Responsible Fishing Guidelines for Tuna Longline Fisheries

Many tuna fisheries have begun to enter fishery improvement projects (FIPs) to address the problems that would prevent them from achieving or maintaining Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. This includes longline fisheries that target tunas such as albacore, bigeye and yellowfin. ISSF and other NGOs have put together lists of the elements that they consider to be most important for effective management of longline tuna fisheries. A new paper emphasizes the most important and common weaknesses identified in longline tuna FIP action plans against ISSF´s technical report on Recommended Best Practices for Longline Fisheries in Transition to MSC Certification.

Download the report

Read the companion Best Practices report

 

Featured Content

Expanded ISSF Requirements for Longline Fishing Vessels

Strengthened ISSF Conservation Measures Cover Shark Finning and Fisher Outreach on Bycatch Mitigation

ISSF announced updates to several ISSF conservation measures (CM) in August 2021 to facilitate continuous improvements in the sustainability of global tuna fisheries, including those measures that impact longline tuna vessels.

“ISSF is guiding seafood companies and tuna fishers — with an expanded focus on longline fisheries — in taking additional, scientifically researched steps to protect sharks and other marine species, including through accessible education on up-to-date bycatch-mitigation best practices for skippers,” explained ISSF President Susan Jackson.

Read the announcement

 

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. Each tuna FIP name in the table is linked to its FisheryProgress.org description. 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. Tuna fishery names are linked to their pages on the MSC Track a Fishery site. You can sort or filter by column.

Search the table

 

Featured Infographic

Saving Sea Turtles 

An infographic shows fishermen how to safely handle sea turtles unintentionally caught during tuna fishing to help them survive.

View the graphic

What is a Jelly-FAD? PLUS: Fact Checking on FADs Video

Featured Research

Jelly-FADs: Science Leads the Way on Improved FAD Design

ISSF is working to discover and advocate for best practices for an urgent change in fishing gear: the biodegradable fish aggregating device, or bio-FAD. As ISSF Senior Scientist Gala Moreno writes, 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.

Learn more

 

Featured Graphic

Biodegradable FAD Timeline

An updated timeline shows ISSF research and other activities in 2009–2021 focused on brainstorming, designing, and testing biodegradable FADs for tuna fishers.

Biodegradable FADs are made with natural materials that can break down over time and are less harmful to the marine environment. In contrast, traditional FADs are made with man-made materials that, when not retrieved after fishing, persist in and pollute the oceans.

View the graphic

 

Featured Video

Fact Checking on FADs

Our new video examines six frequently discussed ideas on FADs.

Watch

 

ISSF in the News

As 2022 begins, 17 tuna stocks fail MSC standards, says ISSF 

Undercurrent News