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ISSF Calls on Nations to Limit Tuna Catches & Capacity in Eastern Pacific

21 June 2012

GLOBAL - The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has released its position statement in advance of the 83rd Meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) in La Jolla, California next week.

The position includes a call for a reduction in catches for bigeye tuna in the region, which is being overfished. ISSF also advocates for a catch limit, determined by each species’ stock evaluation and productivity, placed on the amount of north Pacific albacore, yellowfin and skipjack taken by vessels in the region.

In order to meet the requirements outlined in the Antigua Convention, ISSF urges IATTC to establish stock-specific reference points; recommending that the IATTC set interim reference points, much like the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission did, which can be evaluated further by the staff for expected performance under various harvest control rules. RFMO members should also agree to a performance review, to be completed prior the next IATTC annual meeting. The review should assess the performance of the individual members as well as the collective organisation.

In an effort to promote capacity limitations, ISSF has called upon the IATTC and its members to address all ambiguities associated with its Regional Vessel Register to ensure the total amount of well capacity is limited to maintain a level that matches the productivity of the eastern Pacific’s tuna stocks. In addition, the IATTC should effectively limit the capacity of gears other than purse seine.

Other improvements supported in the ISSF position statement include the development of a regional FAD management plan through FAD data gathering, along with sharing the results of current and future research on FAD construction and bycatch mitigation. ISSF also called on all RFMOs to adopt measures to mandate that fins remain naturally attached for any sharks retained onboard, and to adopt a prohibition on deliberate purse seine setting around whale sharks.

Full retention of catch is also highlighted in the position statement along with a similar measure for the full retention of all bycatch by purse seine vessels, except where otherwise prohibited by IATTC or national regulations, or where the animal can be released alive. These measures are also supported by ISSF Conservation Measures.

EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki commented: "It is paramount for members of the supply chain to have tools for monitoring the situation and engaging actively in improvements to source fisheries."

She added: "We all have the responsibility to ensure fish stocks long-term sustainability. Within this objective it is necessary to keep fisheries impacts within sustainable bounds, by including all knowledge we have about the interactions between fisheries and marine ecosystems".

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