Pew issues IATTC advice ahead of July meeting

By Undercurrent News

The Pew Charitable Trusts has issued some advice to the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) on tightening fishery control ahead of its meeting on July 22-26 in Bilbao, Spain.

Firstly, it said, improving transshipment regulations can secure a legal seafood supply chain.

Transshipment refers to the practice of transferring catch from a fishing vessel to a carrier ship, which then delivers the fish to port. This is an important step in the global seafood supply chain that often takes place outside the view and reach of authorities—creating opportunities for illicit activities and the misreporting or nonreporting of catch. This year, IATTC members should adopt policies that increase the transparency and ease of verifying transshipment activities, Pew said.

Since the Commission last updated its rules on this widespread activity in 2012, the number of recorded transshipments has increased more than 65%, the NGO said. What’s more, a recent analysis using publicly broadcasted vessel-position data indicates that unauthorized transshipments may have occurred in the IATTC convention area in 2017.

Then, modernizing fishery management is needed, it said.

"Gone are the days when managers viewed setting short-term catch limits annually as the best way to manage fishing. Today, managers and other stakeholders are starting to realize that agreeing on a harvest strategy can prevent political gridlock from obstructing sustainable management. A harvest strategy is a science-based, precautionary system of multiyear management rules that guides fishing in the future to ensure that the stock remains healthy and triggers automatic actions if the stock is in danger of becoming overfished. Harvest strategies are tested via computer simulation to help ensure that their performance is in line with overall fishery objectives."

IATTC members should provide funding to accelerate the use of management strategy evaluation for all key species, Pew said. This modeling approach for testing rules on catch and fishing effort incorporates information about the biology and population dynamics of the stock, and considers environmental variation and uncertainty.

In addition, members should agree to create a scientist-manager dialogue working group. 

In the meantime, IATTC members must act quickly to end overfishing of valuable yellowfin, bigeye, and Pacific bluefin tuna. This will require agreeing to appropriate reductions in catch and fishing effort.

Finally, Pew said IATTC needs to fight illegal fishing through strong port controls.

The IATTC is the only tuna regional fisheries management organization without appropriate port state measures in place, it said.

To ensure that all members are playing by the same rules, the IATTC should adopt a strong set of minimum standards governing the use of ports by fishing vessels and inspections in those ports.

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