yellowfin tunaA rebuilding plan for yellowfin tuna sustainability is ISSF’s highest priority for IOTC. Photo: NOAA

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has urged the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) to adopt an effective rebuilding plan for yellowfin tuna aligned with recommendations from IOTC’s own scientific committee.

Asserting its position in advance of the 24th Session of the IOTC in November, the ISSF said that as in 2019, given the serious risk of further declines in the status of the stock, a rebuilding plan for yellowfin tuna sustainability is its highest priority for IOTC. It said if implemented effectively, this would see a 15%-20% reduction from the 2017 yellowfin catch levels.

“Yellowfin stock status in Indian Ocean fisheries remains a clear concern,” said ISSF president, Susan Jackson. “To rebuild the stock, IOTC must adopt a measure in 2020 that fully incorporates the recommendations of its own Scientific Committee, ensures all gears and fleets harvesting yellowfin are included and addresses non-compliance with the interim rebuilding plan. For fisheries management, COVID-19 presents many obstacles, but the Commission is responsible for this critical resource and should take immediate action to conserve it.”

The interim-rebuilding plan adopted last year in Resolution 19/01 did not fully incorporate the scientific committee’s yellowfin advice, and it allowed for growth in some fishery sectors. In addition, reported over-catches in contravention of the Resolution is further eroding its effectiveness, said ISSF.

ISSF has also asked IOTC to carry out several other urgent actions during its meeting, including conducting management strategy evaluation (MSE) for albacore, bigeye, skipjack and yellowfin tuna stocks, and adopting species-specific management procedures, particularly for yellowfin.

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