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Commercial Fishing



More action needed to protect global tuna stocks. The European Commission has the responsibility to defend the interests of all relevant stakeholders when representing the EU at Regional Fisheries Management Organisations. European retailers, supply-chain companies and associated stakeholders have a vested interest in ensuring the steady supply to the market of tuna that ultimately meets the highest standards of environmental performance and social responsibility.

As such the Global Tuna Alliance (GAA) is calling on the Commission to address the following, to:

  • Demonstrably champion and advance the development and adoption of harvest strategies in order to safeguard a stable supply of sustainably caught tuna as a priority during the 2021 Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) meeting cycle, including by adopting harvest strategies in tuna RFMOs in which the EU is a contracting party.
  • Ensure full and early engagement with all relevant stakeholders when developing the EU position at RFMOs on the different levels where these policies are discussed, including the executive policy bodies.
  • Improve transparency and accountability in the way these policies are shaped and implemented in the tuna RFMOs.

Meanwhile, the GAA is also calling for action on the overfishing of Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna.

A GAA statement said:

“The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) held an abbreviated remote meeting in November 2020 and agreed to hold a special session from 7th-11th March 2021 to discuss rebuilding yellowfin. Unfortunately, this meeting ended with no agreement on rebuilding and the 25th Session of the IOTC remains the last realistic chance for delegates to demonstrate to the market that they are serious about tuna sustainability.

“The Global Tuna Alliance, a precompetitive collaboration of retailers, suppliers, wholesalers and brands who collectively bought 1.27m tonnes of tuna, worth over USD $1.3bn, in 2020, urges the IOTC to immediately end overfishing and rebuild the yellowfin stock in two generations.”

“To achieve this, the IOTC needs to agree a resolution that:

1. Applies to all fishing vessels targeting tuna and tuna like species in the Indian Ocean regardless of the length of the vessel and area of operation. Currently, 42% of the yellowfin catch is exempt from the existing rebuilding plan. Increased catches from these exempt fleets have more than offset the reduction made by the fleets that actually reduced their catch.

2. Effectively reduces the catch. The IOTC’s own scientific committee has determined that the Fishing Mortality in 2017 was 20% higher than the target reference point of Fishing Mortality at MSY. Therefore, a resolution should achieve a reduction in fishing mortality of 20% to meet the target reference point of FMSY. This equates to roughly a catch of 341,000 tons (or a 16.7% reduction in catch – based on data

“Should an agreement, in line with advice from the scientific committee, prove impossible, then individual supply chain members will be forced to re-evaluate their purchasing decisions.”

Dr Tom Pickerell, Executive Director at the Global Tuna Alliance, said:

“Time is running out for IOTC delegates to demonstrate they are serious about tuna sustainability. We are looking for leaders to champion the rebuilding of overfished yellowfin“