After two years of discussions and negotiations, the IATTC conservation measure for tropical tunas have finally been approved at the recent 98th meeting. The Global Tuna Alliance (GTA), along with many other organisations, had strongly urged delegates to ensure that, at a minimum, the tropical tuna conservation measure did not lapse and that additional measures were adopted to limit fishing pressure on yellowfin and bigeye tunas.
The new conservation measure, for the years 2022 to 2024, include a 72-day closure of the purse seine fishery with increasing closures to vessels that exceed the annual catch limits. In addition, the measure contains new limits of fish aggregating devices (FADs) that decrease over the years, which are the primary means of controlling effort in this fishery. Also, there will be catch limits for longline fleets.
In addition to the conservation measure, the Commission adopted a Port State Measure, another of the GTA’s asks. The central elements of this measure are establishing a minimum percentage of inspection for foreign vessels (5%), the designation of ports by port States, a compulsory prior notification for port access, and the reporting of possible infringements detected in the inspection.
Albert Arthur, Director of Outreach and Engagement at GTA, said, “We welcome the decision of the members of the IATTC to support these conservation measures. This agreement shows that when stakeholders work together to promote sustainability, even the most difficult challenges can be overcome. The agreement on Port State Measures is a big step in the right direction as well, but there are still several areas that have to be addressed by the IATTC, like the transshipments regulations, precautionary harvest strategies, fishery observer coverage and safety, and the improvement of the silky shark measures. We will continue asking the Commission for these.”