EU proposes measures for Indian Ocean Tuna Commission to safeguard tuna and sharks
The EU has tabled ambitious proposals in view of this year's annual meeting of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), which will take place in Bali from 30 March to 3 April 2009.
These proposals include important conservation measures and measures to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) which is rife in the Indian Ocean. If agreed to by the IOTC, these measures, along with the EU's new regulation to combat IUU fishing and the European Commission's recent proposal for an Action Plan for the conservation and management of sharks, would mark an important step forward in the sustainable management of the tuna, tuna-like species and sharks in the Indian Ocean.
The EU conservation proposals, which are in line with the most recent scientific advice, include the introduction of catch limitations for the main tropical tuna stocks (yellowfin and bigeye) and for swordfish, a ban on large-scale driftnets. Also proposed are a regional observer programme and the introduction of a new approach against the pernicious practice of "shark finning". Here the EU proposes an obligation to land all shark bodies together with the fins. The IUU proposals foresee trade-related measures to enhance compliance with the conservation measures, the introduction of Port State schemes and a catch documentation scheme for yellowfin tuna. The Community is also hopeful that all parties will agree to launch a reform of the IOTC in accordance with the report of the performance review panel. This report identified the weaknesses of the IOTC and the need for its overhaul so as to give it the capacity to fully play its role as an effective RFMO.