The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) recently concluded a Special Session to adopt a conservation and management measure on fish aggregating devices (FADs) in Indian Ocean tuna fisheries. The Special Session was called last year due to inaction on this topic.
In a position statement issued before the IOTC session, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) urged enhanced, science-based FAD management provisions. ISSF acknowledges the Commission’s progress in adopting some of the improvements called for in our position, including FAD marking guidelines, a timeline for transition to biodegradable FADs, and access to FAD position data for the IOTC Scientific Committee for science needs.
But ISSF is concerned by the lack of a shared effort by all IOTC delegations in working together toward the realization of scientific advice. The general breakdown of communication and negotiation that was evident at the IOTC Special Session sets an unwelcome precedent for future meetings and, ultimately, the sustainable use of Indian Ocean tuna fisheries.
“IOTC parties are beholden to the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, the core provisions of which require cooperation and consultation amongst all coastal States and States fishing on the high seas,” noted ISSF President Susan Jackson. “Both practices are critically important in managing highly migratory fish stocks like tuna, and both practices seemed to have been unfortunately lacking at this meeting.
“We therefore remain cautious in our assessment of the effectiveness of the new FAD measure, especially in helping rebuild the yellowfin tuna stock. And we urge all parties to recommit to working together for the long-term sustainable management of Indian Ocean resources.”