The Global Tuna Alliance is profoundly disappointed and frustrated by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and their decision to leave tropical tunas without conservation and management measures in 2021.
The current IATTC conservation measure for tropical tunas C-17-02 expires at the end of 2020, and this was a primary item for discussion at the Commission meeting. To support discussions, both the IATTC Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and the IATTC staff had tabled recommendations noting that the provisions of the current resolution be maintained along with additional precautionary measures to address potential increases in fishing mortality caused by the FAD fishery.
The Global Tuna Alliance, along with many other organisations, had strongly urged delegates to ensure that the tropical tuna conservation measure did not lapse, and that additional measures were adopted to limit fishing pressure on yellowfin and bigeye tunas.
The collective failure of IATTC delegations to ensure that tropical tunas will be managed in 2021 is astonishing. In 2021, the 72-day closure of the purse seine fishery, and the limit of fish aggregating devices (FADs), which are the primary means of controlling effort in this fishery, will be void. Furthermore, there will be no catch limits for longline fleets.
These put the tropical tuna stocks at serious risk of overfishing.
In addition, the lack of conservation measures may lead to these fisheries to be considered “unregulated” (as in IUU). Finally, there will undoubtably be a repercussion on the certified fisheries, and fisheries in improvement projects (FIPs) in this region.
These factors will have significant impact on the market that sources tropical tuna from the eastern Pacific. Many companies have public seafood sourcing policies that exclude IUU products, for example.
Accordingly, the Global Tuna Alliance calls on the IATTC to immediately schedule a special session to adopt management measures for 2021 to address this astonishing situation.
Tom Pickerell, Global Tuna Alliance Executive Director said “While it is clear that the impacts of COVID-19 have presented challenges in conducting meetings we do not believe current circumstances should have prevent IATTC from taking action to ensure the management of the tuna stocks under its purview.”
“The inability of the IATTC to reach agreement on such a fundamental issue clearly highlights the limitations of regional fishery management organisations (RFMOs). At the end of the day, the delegates have caused irreparable reputational damage to the IATTC. We can only hope that in 2021 irreparable damage does not occur to the tropical tuna stocks”
 Skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye