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Commercial Fishing


ISSF Adopts New Conservation Measure Aimed at Rebuilding Yellowfin Tuna

ISSF Adopts New Conservation Measure Aimed at Rebuilding Yellowfin Tuna in the Indian Ocean

New Measure for ISSF Participating Companies Highlighted in Position Statement for June 2021 IOTC Annual Meeting

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has announced a new ISSF conservation measure (CM) requiring its participating companies to reduce annual sourcing of Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna. ISSF Conservation Measure 1.3 IOTC Yellowfin Tuna Rebuilding becomes effective in the event that the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) does not take action at its June 2021 annual meeting to effectively implement IOTC scientific committee advice on the reduction of yellowfin catch. The new measure is included in ISSF’s recently released IOTC position statement.

“For more than a year, ISSF and our partners have been urging IOTC to heed scientific advice and act to protect Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna. But the Commission has repeatedly failed to adopt effective measures to rebuild the yellowfin stock, including at its special meeting held in March 2021,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “ISSF and its participating companies are committed to the long term sustainable use of the valuable Indian Ocean tuna resources. We will take steps as needed—with scientific guidance in mind—when fisheries management falls short. And we will do so transparently through a well-established audit and compliance reporting process.”

The most recent advice from the IOTC Scientific Committee (SC) recommends a reduction in yellowfin tuna catches to less than 403,000 tonnes annually, which would represent, at a minimum, an 11% reduction from 2019 catches. ISSF CM 1.3 requires ISSF participating companies to reduce annual sourcing of Indian Ocean origin yellowfin by 11%, calculated with respect to the company’s average annual level of Indian Ocean yellowfin purchases from 2017-2019. The measure also requires companies to issue public statements on their company websites describing their commitment to and implementation of the measure. ISSF CM 1.3 will go into effect on July 31, 2021 if IOTC, once again, fails to adopt a measure to effectively implement the most recent IOTC SC advice at its annual meeting in June.

As part of its commitment to transparency and accountability, ISSF engages third-party auditor MRAG Americas to audit participating companies to assess their compliance with all ISSF conservation measures. MRAG Americas conducts independent auditing based on a public audit protocol.

IOTC Position Statement

ISSF has also included recommendations on the IOTC yellowfin rebuilding plan in its IOTC position statement for the June Commission meeting, which outlines these ‘asks’:

  1. Adopt without delay an effective rebuilding plan for yellowfin tuna which, if implemented effectively, would imply a reduction to a total catch between 350,000 and 403,000 tonnes.
  2. Address over-catches in contravention of Resolution 19/01.
  3. Urgently monitor and manage catches of skipjack to ensure catches in 2021 do not exceed the limit set by the adopted Harvest Control Rule.
  4. Accelerate the develop Management Procedures and agree on permanent Limit and Target Reference Points for tropical and temperate tunas, particularly yellowfin, by 2022.
  5. Request the Scientific Committee to provide science-based limits on FAD deployments and/or FAD sets; develop in 2021 and adopt, by 2022, FAD marking guidelines and FAD tracking and recovery policies; and require the use of biodegradable materials in the construction of FADs and establish a timeline for transitioning to 100% biodegradable.
  6. Establish the Working Group on Electronic Monitoring (EM) and develop EM program minimum standards by 2022. Require 100% observer coverage (human and/or electronic) in industrial tuna fisheries, including all those engaged in at sea transshipment, by 2024.

The complete ISSF IOTC position statement is available online