WWF urges action to safeguard tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean
Published: 30 May, 2014
Colombo, Sri Lanka. WWF urges member states of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)1 who are meeting next week in Sri Lanka, to improve the management of tuna stocks and the conservation of other vulnerable bycatch species, such as sharks, which are affected by tuna fishing operations.
“If the coastal states have the foresight to act together to ensure sustainability of their fisheries while tuna stocks in other oceans decline, they could find themselves in a commanding and beneficial economic position in coming decades. It vital to so many people who depend on the long-term viability of tuna fisheries in the region that the IOTC adopt conservation measures to safeguard this resource”, said Wetjens Dimmlich, WWF’s Indian Ocean Tuna Programme Manager.
WWF calls upon the IOTC to adopt measures for the conservation of threatened shark species and requirements to land retained shark species with fins naturally attached. Other measures to make tuna fisheries more sustainable include improving the regional coverage of Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) and requirements for unique vessel identifiers to be mandatory by 2016. This will help curb illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries in the region.
WWF points to the necessity of capacity building to assist managers in interpreting and applying advice from scientists relating to fisheries management using harvest control rules and reference points as well as strengthening data collection to support improved Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) management.
Adoption of proposals to improve the management of tuna and the conservation of marine resources is only part of the solution. Unfortunately, the IOTC suffers from low levels of compliance with the requirements and obligations of approved Resolutions by many of the member states. WWF urges all members to meet their obligations and improve compliance with fundamental resolutions, such as the provision of accurate and timely scientific data, including catch, effort and size frequency data, for tuna, sharks and other bycatch species.
WWF hopes that Indian Ocean coastal states will continue to expand their common and increasingly growing influence by adopting measures that further strengthen compliance and performance of IOTC, including those related to maintaining the sustainability of tuna and tuna-like species, and reducing the ecosystem impacts. Domingos Gove, Head of WWF’s Coastal East Africa Marine Programme notes, “These deliberate actions will not only maximize the needed socio-economic benefits for their nations and communities, but also provide sustainable seafood for continuous growing world demand.”