The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has published its position statement in advance of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) annual meeting, to be held August 7-11, 2023 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. ISSF opens its appeal to Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) tuna fisheries managers with a request to further strengthen regional fisheries management organization (RFMO) member compliance processes.
“Strong, transparent compliance policies and practices improve fisheries management because they hold RFMO members accountable. Last year, we applauded the Commission for its adoption of improvements in this area, including best practices promoted by ISSF and partners, like greater detail in compliance reports and mechanisms to identify infraction patterns,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “This year, the IATTC must implement these improvements to strengthen its compliance processes and ensure robust and responsible outcomes.”
The ISSF statement also urges the adoption of a harvest strategy for North Pacific albacore, including a harvest control rule. The new Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard requires a higher level of performance for RFMO-managed fisheries, including regarding harvest strategies for tuna fisheries. To achieve this heightened standard, the IATTC must agree on harvest strategies or risk missing the required deadlines to implement harvest strategy outcomes.
“Improved fish aggregating device (FAD) management is another top priority for EPO fisheries managers this year,” continued Ms. Jackson. “The IATTC must join its peer tuna RFMOs in the Indian and Western and Central Pacific Oceans in requiring fully non-entangling FAD designs without netting of meshed materials.“
FADs should be designed to avoid the use of netting and be constructed primarily with biodegradable materials to reduce the impact of FAD structures on the marine ecosystem. ISSF’s work with EPO fishing vessels and IATTC scientists to trial a new biodegradable and fully non-entangling FAD design — known as the jelly-FAD — is showing promise. ISSF therefore urges the Commission to adopt the definition of “biodegradable” proposed by its FAD Working Group and establish a timeline for transition to 100% biodegradable FADs.
Additional “top asks” for the IATTC annual meeting in the ISSF position statement include:
- Establish a work plan with timelines to further strengthen the Committee for the Review of Implementation of Measures’ procedures and outcomes, including developing by 2024 a hierarchy of infractions and a scheme of responses to improve compliance.
Effective Management Procedures (Harvest Strategies)
- For South Pacific albacore, collaborate with the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to develop a harvest strategy and implement the 2023 recommendations of the IATTC Scientific Advisory Committee.
- Adopt interim reference points for skipjack tuna.
- Establish and convene a scientist-manager dialogue group to advance management procedures for other tuna stocks.
- Require fully non-entangling fish aggregating device (FAD) designs without netting or meshed materials.
- Adopt the definition of “biodegradable” proposed by the FAD Working Group and establish a timeline for transition to 100% biodegradable FADs.
Tuna Stock Conservation
- Ensure all members implement Resolution C-21-04 fully so that the fishing mortality for bigeye and yellowfin does not exceed the average fishing mortality during 2017-2019.
- Amend Resolution C-05-03 to require that all retained sharks be landed with fins naturally attached without exceptions.
- Amend Resolution C-11-02 to include updated seabird mitigation options (e.g., hook shielding devices), including harmonization with IOTC and WCPFC.
- Endorse the recommendations of the IATTC Staff on Electronic Monitoring.
- Establish a fleet-wide observer program (human or electronic or a combination) for class 1-5 purse seine vessels.