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Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) annual meeting: progress towards sustainability

Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) annual meeting: progress towards sustainability

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Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) annual meeting: progress towards sustainability

24/06/2019

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) held its 23rd Annual Meeting in Hyderabad, India, from 17 to 21 June 2019. The EU welcomes the adoption of ambitious measures to improve the management of FADs and offset their possible negative impacts on the ecosystem, and the retention ban on Manta and Mobula rays. However, there is still a lot to be done to reach the sustainable management of stocks covered by the organisation’s mandate, in particular the Yellowfin Tuna (YFT).

One of the meeting’s most positive outcomes is the adoption of ambitious measures on Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs).   The IOTC established a series of measures to set the highest standards in all Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).  FADs numbers are to be further reduced to 300, with increased monitoring and data collection. The IOTC also made it mandatory to have completely non-entangling designs for FADs to reduce the possibility of catching non-targeted species. As of 2022, all FADs will have to be made of biodegradable material, in line with the EU efforts to reduce marine litter. In addition, the adopted measure contains a set of clear definitions, improved standards for data collection, the establishment of a marking scheme and strengthened control procedures. The result is the outcome of the joint efforts of the EU and many IOTC members, which have resulted in improving the original EU proposal.

The IOTC also endorsed a proposal tabled by the EU on Mobulids, namely the interdiction to retain on board any Manta and Mobula rays for all vessels operating in the IOTC convention area: the ban was recommended by the IOTC Scientific Committee to protect this endangered species. Artisanal fisheries are exempted from this ban but only for accidental catches and until 2022.

However, the EU regrets that the new conservation measures on the Yellowfin Tuna (YFT) were not ambitious enough to reduce current overfishing but welcomes the strengthening of compliance related measure.  The EU will continue to push for better management of YFT.

 

Background

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) is an intergovernmental organisation 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 the optimisation of the utilisation of stocks in the area and encouraging sustainable development of fisheries based on such stocks.

The members of IOTC are Australia, Maldives, 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, South Korea, Madagascar, Yemen and Malaysia.