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Tuna Experts Mark 10 Years of Collaboration, Come Together for Workshop on Mitigation of Environmental Impacts of Tropical Tuna Purse Seine Fisheries

Washington, D.C.

ISSF and the Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project Co-sponsored Six Sessions Focused on Bycatch and Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs)

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) and the Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project co-sponsored the Mitigating Environmental Impacts of Tropical Tuna Purse Seine Fisheries workshop, held at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, on 12-13 March 2019. The workshop reviewed the progress cross-sector research and advocacy efforts have made in reducing bycatch and other environmental impacts and also identified main focus areas for future activities.

Workshop sessions focused on: (1) bycatch of the tuna purse seine fishery; (2) sharks and rays; (3) small bigeye and yellowfin tuna; (4) fish aggregating device (FAD) structure impacts; (5) FAD management; and (6) looking ahead: the next 10 years. Each session comprised an expert presentation followed by a discussion panel including representatives from across the multi-sector workshop participants. The newly released report detailing the six sessions is now available for download. The report also offers data-rich presentations for each session.

Download the presentations and report from our workshop with #CommonOceans on mitigating #bycatch in tropical #tuna #purse #seine #fisheries. Click To Tweet

“By bringing together leading scientists, NGO representatives and members of the commercial fishing industry, the International Workshop in Rome and its report provide a full picture of where we stand after ten years of work on mitigating environmental impacts of tuna fishing,” said ISSF VP of Science Victor Restrepo. “Synthesizing different viewpoints and areas of expertise on these issues will continue to serve us well in targeting specific areas of focus for future research and advocacy efforts.”

For the last ten years, ISSF has been conducting research and advocacy activities on mitigating environmental impacts of purse seine fisheries, with emphasis on bycatch and FADs. These include at-sea research, interactive workshops with vessel skippers, and advocacy for Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs). The presentations and discussions outlined in the report are based primarily on those years of research.

“The Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project has been working with ISSF for the last five years on the work they embarked on a decade ago,” said Global Project Coordinator from FAO Alejandro Anganuzzi. “Our recent workshop brought together a diverse set of stakeholders, and brought forth engaging discussions with meaningful outcomes that will help guide our future collaboration with ISSF.”

Conclusions reached in each session presentation as noted in the report include:

SESSION 1 – Bycatch of the tuna purse seine fishery

Overall rates of bycatch in tropical tuna purse seine fisheries are very small.

SESSION 2 – Sharks and rays

Shark bycatch is very low, less than 0.5% by weight. Still, some shark species are vulnerable or at-risk, and the purse seine fishery should strive to mitigate this bycatch.

SESSION 3 – Small bigeye and yellowfin tunas

Catching juvenile bigeye and yellowfin does not necessarily cause overfishing. Overfishing can occur by catching too many small fish, too many large fish, or too many of both.

SESSION 4 – FAD structure impacts

Currently, except for the satellite buoy, biodegradable FADs should be made of only natural fibers/materials that are sustainably harvested until other materials such as synthetic bio-materials become available and are proven to be non-toxic for the marine environment.

SESSION 5 – FAD management

The purse seine fishery needs to be managed holistically. Too much focus on FAD sets detracts from other important issues.

SESSION 6 – Looking ahead: The next 10 years

There is a need for more fundamental and applied research.

The Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project, funded by the Global Environmental Facility and implemented by FAO, harnesses the efforts of a large and diverse array of partners, including the five tuna RFMOs, governments, inter-governmental organizations, NGOs and the private sector, to achieve responsible, efficient and sustainable tuna production and biodiversity conservation in the areas beyond national jurisdiction.

ISSF is a global coalition of scientists, the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund, promoting science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting ecosystem health. Helping global tuna fisheries meet sustainability criteria to achieve the Marine Stewardship Council certification standard — without conditions — is ISSF’s ultimate objective. In 2019, ISSF celebrated a “Decade of Discovery” as the organization completed its tenth year of scientific research, advocacy and industry engagement. To learn more, visit, and follow ISSF on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Alejandro Anganuzzi, Global Coordinator, Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project, FAO | [email protected]

Ms. Mary Sestric, Vice President, Communications, ISSF | [email protected]

Post Contact: Charlie Patterson, [email protected]
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