GLOBAL - In a move to help the long term sustainability of Indian Ocean skipjack tuna stocks, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) has agreed to adopt Harvest Control Rules (HCR) for the fishery.
The decision was made at the 20th IOTC Annual Meeting, hosted by the European Union in La Réunion, France, 23 to 27 May 2016.
According to the the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF), which has worked hard for the introduction of management framework, the HCR sets pre-agreed management measures that aim to keep the skipjack population at healthy levels, while ensuring the fishery itself is profitable and accessible to all.
Unlike most fishery management measures taken at the international level, this measure is not intended to restrict or reduce current fishing. Since the skipjack population is currently healthy, the measure simply outlines pre-agreed steps that will be taken if the fishery becomes unsustainable in the future.
“The adoption of this measure paves the way for a new era in tuna fisheries management,” said Adam Baske, Director and Policy & Outreach for the IPNLF.
“This is a common sense approach. It protects the resource and the fishing communities that depend on it.”
Martin Purves, IPNLF Fisheries Development Director added: “This is the first ever precautionary harvest control rule adopted by a tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisation while stocks are not overfished and reaffirms the sustainability credentials of the MSC-certified Maldives pole-and-line fishery."
More Action Needed for Yellowfin Tuna
Although effort was made to protect the future of the yellowfin tuna fishery, through agreed catch reduction steps, the EU said that it was hoping for a more ambitious outcome.
Yellowfin tuna is one of the main IOTC stocks and the main fishing fleets involved in this fishery could contribute to the reduction of catches for the next year with close monitoring by the Scientific Committee.
Mr Purves also noted: "Action still needs to be taken to rebuild overfished yellowfin tuna stocks, and the IPNLF will continue to work with others to achieve this.”
TheFishSite News Desk