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Skipjack tuna specimens. (Photo: Stock File)

IPNLF urges IOTC to improve tuna stock management in Indian Ocean

Click on the flag for more information about Indonesia INDONESIA
Friday, May 19, 2017, 02:50 (GMT + 9)

The International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) and its Member network are urging the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) to further enhance the management of stocks and reduce bycatch in Indian Ocean’s tuna fisheries.

The request comes ahead of this year’s annual session held by the entity, which convenes in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on May 22-23. At this pivotal forum, fisheries managers from 31 member countries must act to conserve the region’s multi-billion dollar tuna fisheries and protect the coastal communities reliant upon them.

The year 2016 was regarded as a breakthrough year for the IOTC with the adoption of the world’s first harvest control rule for skipjack tuna and the adoption of important measures designed to rebuild yellowfin stocks. It is up to the IOTC to maintain the momentum and take on other pressing issues that threaten the sustainability of Indian Ocean tuna fisheries.

“It is time to take responsible fisheries management up to the next level. Along with our Members, we strongly encourage the development of additional harvest strategies to safeguard these important fisheries and also protect the many communities that depend upon them,” pointed out Adam Baske, Director of Policy & Outreach at IPNLF.

Baske stressed that any backtracking on the yellowfin rebuilding plan is strongly discouraged but that further voluntary reduction in fishing effort is welcomed to speed up the recovery of this stock.

For his part, Roy Schofield, Managing Director of Maldives Quality Seafood considered it is worthwhile to seize this opportunity to strengthen the rebuilding plan for Indian Ocean yellowfin stocks.

“Not only does the health of the ocean depend upon it, but so do the livelihoods of numerous coastal communities that rely on this resource for employment, income and nutrition,” Schofield said.

IPNLF and its Members also want IOTC to take decisive action to reduce impacts on endangered, threatened, and protected species by eliminating non-compliant gillnet use, reducing the use of drifting FADs, and banning the use of supply vessels. These activities represent a serious threat to vulnerable species in the Indian Ocean, including marine mammals, sharks and turtles.

"I hope that responsible members of the IOTC will take appropriate action against driftnets, supply boats, large gill nets and also limit the impacts on ETP species for the interest of managing the stocks," commented Adnan Ali, Managing Director of Horizon Fisheries, a Maldivian-based fish processing company.

Retailers in the IPNLF network are equally interested in the seeing the IOTC address these management challenges.

In this regard, Sandra Hinni, Fisheries Sustainability Specialist at Migros Group, the largest retailer in Switzerland, stressed their intention to continue supplying their valued customers with sustainable tuna from the Indian Ocean, feeling convinced that it is crucial that management in the Indian Ocean is improved.

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