Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna is overfished with overfishing continuing to occur. The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) held an abbreviated remote meeting in November 2020 and agreed to hold a special session from 8 -12th March 2021 to discuss measures to rebuild yellowfin tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately, this meeting ended with no agreement on rebuilding and the 25th Session of the IOTC remains the last realistic chance for delegates to demonstrate to the market that they are serious about tuna sustainability.
We welcome the two interim plans for rebuilding the Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna stock submitted to the 25th Session: one by the EU and the other by the Maldives. The Global Tuna Alliance once again applauds the leadership shown by these two CPCs.
IOTC’s own scientific advice notes that fishing mortality in 2017 was 20% higher than the target reference point of Fishing Mortality at MSY. Therefore, a resolution should achieve a reduction in fishing mortality of 20% to meet the target reference point of FMSY. This equates to a 16.7% reduction in catch (roughly a catch of 341,000 tons). Accordingly, the Global Tuna Alliance is following the science and is calling for a 2022 catch of approximately 341,000mt.
The EU and the Maldives proposals would lead to estimated 2022 maximum catches of 394,965mt or 383,556mt respectively. With only 11,409mt between them (or less than 3% difference), we consider the proposals submitted by EU and Maldives as starting points for discussion, and while the Maldives proposal is slightly closer in line with our position in terms of catch reductions required, neither should be regarded as end points. We are therefore encouraging CPCs to enthusiastically embrace this opportunity to discuss yellowfin rebuilding, and agree a robust rebuilding plan for the yellowfin tuna resources in the Indian Ocean.
The current yellowfin tuna rebuilding plan (19/01) allows those countries that exceed catch limits to be exempted from the application of the reductions if they have fishing vessels <24m LOA operating within their EEZ. Both proposals are aligned with our asks on exemptions with measures applying to all fishing vessels targeting tuna in the Indian Ocean.