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Partnership to Develop Sustainable Baitfish Fisheries

14 August 2015

INDONESIA - The International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF), WWF-Australia and Simplot Australia have partnered for an eight-month initiative to develop sustainable baitfish fisheries in three regions of Indonesia, where small pelagic fish are used in human consumption and as bait in pole-and-line tuna fisheries.

Indonesia is the largest tuna-producing nation in the world, and market demand for certified sustainable pole-and-line caught tuna is growing. Sustainable management of bait fish stocks used in these fisheries will safeguard this critical resource, and secure Indonesia’s position as a world-leading producer of sustainable pole-and-line tuna products.

Pole-and-line is considered one of the most environmentally responsible methods for catching tuna and relies on live, wild caught baitfish to attract tuna to unbaited hooks. While baitfish species grow rapidly, reproduce quickly and are highly productive, even these resilient species can be susceptible to the pressure of unmanaged fisheries and a changing environment. This new initiative will implement monitoring and research, increasing the scientific data available for sustainable management planning, as well as assist fishing operators to improve baitfish handling and storage.

For this initiative, Nusa Tenggara Timur, North Maluku and West Papua provinces were selected as priority areas due to specific local conservation issues associated with both pole-and-line tuna and baitfish fisheries.

WWF-Indonesia has a long-standing working presence in Nusa Tenggara Timur through both baitfish monitoring and the development of a WWF supervised enumerator program and a number of potential improvements have already been identified.

The project supports the development and advancement of a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) for these tuna fisheries which ultimately, it is hoped, will lead to assessment for MSC-certification.

This project will contribute to improved food security and livelihoods within coastal communities in remote areas of eastern Indonesia. These fisheries provide an important source of protein for human consumption, as well as being an essential input to pole-and-line fisheries that employ a high number of people relative to the tonnage of tuna caught.

Andrew Harvey, IPNLF Country Director for Indonesia and co-project manager says of this project: “This collaboration represents a hugely important investment in Indonesia’s future. By contributing to the sustainability of Indonesia’s baitfisheries, we are also working to protect livelihoods and an important source of food for the people of Indonesia.”

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