Below, unedited, is the March 23, 2017, press release issued by the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF):
Tuna companies, NGOs, fleet associations, and retailers co-sign letter that presses fisheries management bodies for progress on harvest strategies as well as monitoring, control and surveillance tool
Washington, DC – 23 March 2017 – A diverse, global group of commercial and non-profit organizations is joining the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation’s call for immediate Regional Fishing Management Organization (RFMO) action on top priorities for sustainable tuna fisheries — developing harvest strategies as well as strengthening monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) tools, including the management of fish aggregating devices (FADs).
The March 21 outreach letter to four tuna RFMOs was co-signed by a record-high number of nongovernment organizations, tuna processing companies, fleet associations, retailers, importers and food service operators worldwide. The RFMOs are IATTC (Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission), ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas), IOTC (Indian Ocean Tuna Commission), and WCPFC (Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission).
To manage tuna stocks, countries sharing tuna resources joined together decades ago to create RFMOs, governing bodies that are responsible for establishing management measures (such as catch limits), monitoring the health of tuna stocks and bycatch, and putting in place tools for monitoring fishing activities. More than 4.8 million tonnes of tuna — a major food source worldwide — were harvested in 2015, as reported in ISSF’s recent Status of the Stocks report.
Harvest strategies are science-based frameworks for responsibly managing tuna (or other fish) stocks, including guidelines and limits for fishing vessels. MCS tools — which provide transparency into fishing operations — include human observers, satellite vessel monitoring systems, electronic monitoring systems on vessels, and data collection and dissemination.
The ISSF-coordinated joint outreach letter urges the RFMOs — which oversee tuna fishing in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans — at their 2017 meetings to:
- Develop precautionaryharvest strategies, including specific timelines to adopt target reference points, harvest control rules and other elements
- Where it is not already in place, require 100% observer coverage for all purse seine fishing vesselsand all at-sea transshipment activities
- Identify and sanction non-compliance with the existing mandatory 5% observer coverage requirement for longline vessels
- Develop and adopt standards for electronic reporting and electronic monitoring, for all major fishing gear types, and modernize vessel monitoring systems
- Develop science-based recommendations for managing FADs (fish aggregating devices), including for stock assessments
- Adopt measures for using non-entangling FAD designs, to protect sharks and other non-target species.
A useful review of RFMO progress and gaps across these crucial areas is available in the following ISSF blog: http://iss-foundation.org/2016-year-in-review-what-difference-did-a-year-make/
The letter’s 83 signatories are:
Ahold Delhaize (Global)
Aldi North (Global)
Aldi South (Global)
American Albacore Fishing Association
American Bird Conservancy
Anova Seafood, BV
Auchan Retail (Global)
Bumble Bee Seafoods
Caterers Choice (UK)
Coop Italia (IT)
Coop Trading (All Scandinavia)
Environmental Defense Fund
Grupo Conservas Garavilla (Isabel)
Grupo Maritimo Industrial (Grupomar)
Herdez del Fuerte
IUCN SSC Tuna & Billfish Specialist Group
M & J Seafood (UK)
Marks & Spencer (UK)
Monterey Bay Aquarium
New England Seafood International (UK)
Ocean Harvesters Operative
Pacific Alliance for Sustainable Tuna (PAST)
Pick N Pay (South Africa)
REWE GROUP (Global)
SEAPAC (a subsidiary of Kingfisher)
Spar (South Africa)
Sustainable Fish Cities
Sustainable Fisheries Partnership
Thai Union Europe
The Nature Conservancy
Thunnus Overseas Group/Conserveries des Cinq Océans
Tunago Fishery, Ltd.
Woolworths (South Africa)
ISSF collaborates with industry and NGO partners like these to share information, build consensus, and make recommendations to policymaking RFMOs. The ISSF website includes a library of other joint letters to RFMOs.
A useful table showing RFMO participation by nation can be found in ISSF technical report 2016-14.
About the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is a global coalition of scientists, the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) — the world’s leading conservation organization — promoting science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting ecosystem health. To learn more, visit http://iss-foundation.org/.