The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) today announced updates to several ISSF conservation measures (CM) to facilitate continuous improvements in the sustainability of global tuna fisheries, including those measures that impact longline tuna vessels and the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs).
“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,” explains ISSF President Susan Jackson. “We also are furthering requirements for tuna fishers that use FADs to have clear policies for better managing and recovering them — and to use non-entangling, natural materials in FADs to reduce fishing’s impact on the ocean ecosystem.”
These latest conservation measure amendments aim to:
The full text of all measures is published on the ISSF site and excerpted as an editor’s note below.
Sharks can be caught incidentally in tuna fishing operations, with shark bycatch a significant sustainability concern in longline fisheries. But sharks often are 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 measures 3.1 (a) – Shark Finning Policy, 3.1(b) – Prohibition of Transactions with Shark-Finning Vessels, and 3.1(c) – Prohibition of Transactions with Companies without a Public Policy Prohibiting Shark Finning, by requiring seafood companies by December 31, 2022, to enact policies requiring all retained, incidentally caught sharks to be landed with their fins still naturally attached. In addition to decreasing shark finning, such policies will help to improve data collection, species identification, and monitoring and enforcement.
Since its inception, ISSF has dedicated resources and efforts to understanding bycatch issues in global tuna fisheries and minimizing bycatch. ISSF has expanded a bycatch-mitigation measure — CM 3.6 – Transactions with Vessels Implementing Best Practices for Sharks, Sea Turtles and Seabirds — effective December 21, 2022, to reflect current on-the-water best practices in longline tuna fisheries.
To continue disseminating best-practices information on bycatch prevention and mitigation, ISSF will extend its fisher education requirements, as detailed in amended CM 3.4 – Skipper Best Practices, to longline skippers effective December 31, 2022.
ISSF strengthens its requirements for better FAD management in CM 3.7 – Transactions with Vessels or Companies with Vessel-based FAD Management Policies — an important component for meeting the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification fisheries standard without conditions — including FAD recovery and FAD designs made with biodegradable and non-entangling materials to minimize fishing’s impact on the marine ecosystem.
Large-scale pelagic driftnets are an unselective method of fishing that results in substantial unintentional catches of many non-target marine species. ISSF has expanded the geographic scope of its measure — CM 3.2 – Large-Scale Pelagic Driftnets Prohibition — on this issue.
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 conform 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 Staying the Course. 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 Conservation Measure 3.1 (a) – Shark Finning Policy
All ISSF Participating Companies shall establish and publish policies prohibiting shark finning and requiring sharks be landed with fins naturally attached, if retained.
ISSF Conservation Measure 3.1(b) – Prohibition of Transactions with Shark-Finning Vessels
Processors, traders, importers, transporters and others involved in the seafood industry shall not conduct transactions with vessels that carry out shark finning and/or do not land all sharks with fins naturally attached, if retained.
ISSF Conservation Measure 3.1(c) – Prohibition of Transactions with Companies without a Public Policy Prohibiting Shark Finning
Processors, traders, importers, transporters, marketers and others involved in the seafood industry shall not conduct transactions with companies that do not have a public policy prohibiting shark finning and requiring sharks be landed with fins naturally attached, if retained.
ISSF Conservation Measure 3.6 – Transactions with Vessels Implementing Best Practices for Sharks, Sea Turtles and Seabirds
Processors, traders, importers, marketers and others involved in the seafood industry shall conduct transactions only with those longline vessels whose owners have a policy requiring the implementation of the following best practices for sharks, seabirds and marine turtles:
(a) the use of circle hooks and only monofilament lines (e.g., the use of wire trace is prohibited); and
(b) the use of whole finfish bait
(c) 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; and
(d) No use of “shark lines” at any time.
ISSF Conservation Measure 3.4 – Skipper Best Practices
Processors, traders, importers, transporters, marketers and others involved in the seafood industry shall conduct transactions only with those purse seine and longline vessels whose skippers:
(a) have attended an in-person and/or online ISSF Skippers Workshop; or
(b) have attended an in-person Skippers Workshop provided by a tuna FIP and conducted by a trainer that has been accredited by ISSF to conduct these workshops; or
(c) have viewed an ISSF Skippers Workshop video online; or
(d) have reviewed the online ISSF Skippers Guidebook.
All of the above provide information on best practices for purse seine and longline fishery management.
ISSF Conservation Measure 3.7 – Transactions with Vessels or Companies with Vessel-based FAD Management Policies
To further support the implementation of existing RFMO conservation measures and recommendations for FAD data collection and reporting and the use of non-entangling FAD designs that do not use any netting in any components, including both the raft and the tail, and the use of biodegradable FAD designs that are also fully non-entangling, and to promote the development and implementation of FAD recovery policies, strategies to mitigate shark bycatch in purse seine tuna fisheries and the voluntary provision of FAD buoy data to strengthen FAD management:
ISSF Conservation Measure 3.2 – Large-Scale Pelagic Driftnets Prohibition
ISSF supports the Resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly concerning large-scale pelagic driftnet fishing and its impact on the living marine resources of the world’s oceans and seas, including enclosed and semi-enclosed seas.
Processors, traders, importers, transporters, marketers and others involved in the seafood industry shall refrain from transactions in tuna caught by large-scale pelagic driftnets regardless of the geographic area in which the tuna were caught by such driftnets.