What do we want to see from tuna RFMOs in 2021?

The Global Tuna Alliance (GTA), an independent group of retailers and tuna supply chain companies with a shared vision for tuna meeting the highest standards of environmental performance and social responsibility, has today published its asks of tuna regional fishery management organisations (RFMOs) in 2021.

RFMOs are international organisations formed by countries with fishing interests in an area. Some of them manage all the fish stocks found in a specific area (except the highly-migratory species), while others principally focus on highly-migratory species, notably tuna, sharks and billfish; these “tuna-RFMOs” are the ones we are interested in engaging. The focus of RFMO management is on the high seas fisheries but, due to the management needs of highly migratory and straddling fish stocks, can also focus on fisheries operating in national waters with coastal state agreement.

There are five tuna RFMOs:

  • IOTC – Indian Ocean Tuna Commission
  • WCPFC – Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission
  • IATTC – Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission
  • ICCAT – International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
  • CCSBT – Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (GTA does not work on bluefin tuna)

There are many challenges facing tuna fisheries including overfishing, over-fished stocks, poor management, IUU fishing and poor enforcement. The GTA’s priority overarching asks include:

  • Comprehensive Harvest Strategies
  • 100% observer coverage/Electronic Monitoring
  • Observer Safety
  • FAD Management Best Practices
  • At Sea Transshipment Best Practices
  • Port States Measures Agreement (PSMA)
  • Fins Naturally Attached (FNA)
  • Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions (BBNJ)
  • Allocation Processes

The GTA also has RFMO-specific asks addressing the key issues in each RFMO ranging from yellowfin rebuilding, mako shark conservation and implementing tropical tuna conservation measures. Each ask aligns with the GTA’s 5-year strategy ambitions.

The first RFMO Commission meeting of 2021 will be the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) from 7th-11th June.

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