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Minimal Progress for the Protection of Indian Ocean Tuna Stocks

ISSF Responds to IOTC Annual Meeting Outcomes

At their recently concluded annual meeting, Indian Ocean tuna fisheries managers made minimal overall progress for the long-term protection of the region’s tuna stocks.

IOTC agreed on a new measure for yellowfin tuna. And while ISSF is pleased that many IOTC delegations worked together to agree on some action toward the realization of the scientific advice, we remain cautious in our assessment of the success of this new measure. If fully implemented, the adopted measure projects a resultant yellowfin tuna catch level of 401,000 tons — an amount that meets the recommendation of the IOTC Scientific Committee. Yet it is uncertain if this reduction in catch will be achieved, given the concerns of some member nations and their stated intent to object to the measure. If all IOTC parties do not fully implement the yellowfin measure, the catch level recommended by the IOTC Scientific Committee will be exceeded. 

The ISSF Board will determine at its July 2021 meeting how ISSF Conservation Measure 1.3 IOTC Yellowfin Tuna Rebuilding will or will not go into effect. ISSF recently adopted Conservation Measure 1.3 in response to IOTC inaction. The ISSF measure requires its participating companies to reduce annual sourcing of Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna in the event that Indian Ocean tuna fisheries managers did not take appropriate action at its annual meeting. Further information over the coming weeks will inform the ISSF Board’s discussion on the sufficiency of the new measure as likely to be implemented.

Prior to the IOTC annual meeting, ISSF and its partners issued appeals for progress on additional multiple needs for Indian Ocean tuna fisheries, including FAD management; a management measure to monitor and control skipjack tuna catches; and electronic monitoring. While these items were considered by the IOTC, unfortunately the Commission made noteworthy headway on the matter of electronic monitoring alone. ISSF applauds the IOTC agreement to create a Working Group on Electronic Monitoring. This decision progresses work to establish the use of an important monitoring technology in Indian Ocean fisheries.

ISSF remains focused on taking steps forward for the long-term protection of the region’s valuable tuna fisheries and their associated ecosystems. We will be working diligently in the weeks and months ahead with all stakeholders towards this goal.