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Report highlights tuna industry efforts, but also inaction in some fisheries

 (Photo Credit: NOAA)
Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 03:40 (GMT + 9)

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has released its annual report, which outlines progress and achievements for tuna sustainability in 2014 and lays out the various needs for continuous improvement of global tuna fisheries through collaboration and advocacy.

The report, titled Driving Change through Collaboration, also emphasizes efforts to encourage industry engagement, including efforts by ISSF participating companies to comply with ISSF conservation measures and commitments.

“Important steps were taken in 2014 to help ensure the longevity of tuna stocks and the greater marine ecosystem, but we also saw inaction in some fisheries that could have distressing impacts on stocks down the road,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson.

“In order for ISSF to continue to work towards its mission and encourage better management, we’ll need to continue to collaborate with stakeholders and governing bodies to get things done from a policy perspective and to move forward on market incentives, strengthened compliance and monitoring and data collection tools – in addition to other efforts capable of changing the status quo,” Jackson added.

The report highlights that two RFMOs – the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) – adopted reforms to improve their Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) measures, which represents an important step in ensuring compliance.

The ONG also stresses that collaborative work of public-private partnerships is having an impact. At the end of 2011, only 12 per cent of large-scale purse seine vessels targeting tropical tuna had IMO numbers, while today, nearly 90 per cent have registered IMO numbers and all four of the tuna management bodies now mandate these numbers.

Among other issues, the report reveals that:
  • 52 per cent of stocks globally are at a healthy level of abundance;
  • 9 per cent of stocks globally need stronger management to end overfishing;
  • 86 per cent of the tuna catch (by tonnage) comes from healthy stocks;
  • 3 per cent of the tuna catch (by tonnage) comes from stocks where fishing is not well managed.
Further, ISSF warns that a stock to watch is the Western and Central Pacific bigeye, which has been depleted by 84 per cent from its unfished level. The stock’s abundance could be helped tremendously by reducing catches substantially.

“What gives me the most hope for the future of our global tuna stocks is the increase of cooperation among groups. Everyone sitting around the ‘tuna sustainability’ table is beginning to recognize each individual’s unique tools and capabilities, allowing for true scientific and strategic collaboration,” said ISSF Board of Directors Vice Chair Bill Fox, Vice President, Fisheries, WWF-US.

“Ending IUU, for example, is certainly not going to happen overnight, but when we focus on the strengths of each group, we are able to push forward with an end goal in mind,” Fox concluded.

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