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Press releases and News :: Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) 17th Annual Meeting (6 – 10 May 2013, Grande Baie, Mauritius)

Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) 17th Annual Meeting (6 – 10 May 2013, Grande Baie, Mauritius)

(13/05/2013) The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation responsible for managing tuna and tuna like species in the Indian Ocean, concluded its annual plenary session on Friday 10 May 2013 in Grande Baie, Mauritius, after five days of discussions, which were preceded by three meeting days dedicated to compliance issues.

The results of the meeting are welcomed by the European Commission, in particular due to the adoption of a number of new conservation and management measures. In total four EU proposals were adopted and the EU also collaborated extensively on compromise proposals tabled by other Members, showing the proactive and constructive role of the EU in the IOTC.

The adopted Resolutions demonstrate the clear progress of the organisation, for instance  with the ground breaking resolution on the establishment of interim target and limit reference points and a decision framework regarding the development  and assessment of harvest control rules which allows the IOTC to envisage further potential management measures on tuna and tuna-like stocks in the light of more robust advice from the Scientific Committee.

Other decisions adopted by the IOTC included a resolution on a process for evaluating the implementation of management measures for albacore proposed by the EU, a resolution on the protection of Oceanic Whitetip sharks, also proposed by the EU, a resolution on a discard ban for tropical tunas caught by purse seine vessels, and a revision of the resolution on the establishment of management plans for fisheries using fish aggregating devices (FADs), which was co-proposed by the EU, and introduces the use of log books to ensure better data collection.

The adoption of a Statement on piracy reconfirms the unambiguous message of the IOTC to the international community on the serious issue of piracy in the West Indian Ocean.

Despite the success of the meeting and the positive direction of travel of the IOTC, the meeting also served to highlight the challenges ahead for 2014 and beyond. For instance, compliance and capacity building of IOTC coastal developing States remains a main challenge with members now having 60 days to formally reply to issues identified at the meeting in relation to the tracking of catch data. Elsewhere, and despite the adoption of one EU shark proposal, there is still progress to be made on the protection of the most vulnerable shark species.

Following the rejection of an EU proposal for a catch certification scheme to ensure an effective control of the movements of catches to reduce or eliminate trade in fish and fish products derived from illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing the EU intends to revisit the issue with a view to starting structured and constructive discussions on the issue at the 2014 plenary session. This work will follow a similar approach to the one taken in the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

Members were also asked to continue reflecting on ways to make the IOTC more effective, including a modernization of its basic Agreement to bring it in line with the principles for fisheries management set out in the UN New York Fish Stocks Agreement, and to address the aspects concerning the institutional links with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). This process will be combined with intercessional work to launch the next performance review of the IOTC from 2014.

Background:

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) is an intergovernmental organization mandated to manage tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean and adjacent seas. The objective of the Commission is to promote cooperation among its members with a view to ensuring, through appropriate management, the conservation and optimising the utilisation of stocks in the area and encouraging sustainable development of fisheries based on such stocks.

The members of IOTC are Australia, Maldives, Belize, Mauritius, China, Mozambique, Comoros, Oman, Eritrea, Pakistan, European Union, Philippines, France, Seychelles, Guinea, Sierra Leone, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Sudan, Iran, Tanzania, Japan, Thailand, Kenya, United Kingdom, Korea, Vanuatu, Madagascar, Yemen, and Malaysia.