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IOTC held its 23rd Annual Meeting in Hyderabad, India, from 17 to 21 June 2019

EU hails IOTC adoption of 'ambitious measures' on FADs

EUROPEAN UNION
Tuesday, June 25, 2019, 05:00 (GMT + 9)

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) held its 23rd Annual Meeting in Hyderabad, India, from 17 to 21 June 2019. The European Union welcomes the adoption of ambitious measures to improve the management of FADs and offset their possible negative impacts on the ecosystem, and the retention ban on Manta and Mobula rays. However, the EU considers that there is still a lot to be done to reach the sustainable management of stocks covered by the organisation’s mandate, in particular the yellowfin tuna (YFT).

One of the meeting’s most positive outcomes is the adoption of ambitious measures on Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). The IOTC established a series of measures to set the highest standards in all Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). FADs numbers are to be further reduced to 300, with increased monitoring and data collection.

This map shows where large-scale biodegradable FAD deployments are taking place around the world. It also indicates the tuna fishing gear types, fleets, and dates for each project.(Source: ISSF) | Click on the image to enlarge it

The IOTC also made it mandatory to have completely non-entangling designs for FADs to reduce the possibility of catching non-targeted species.

As of 2022, all FADs will have to be made of biodegradable material, in line with the EU efforts to reduce marine litter. In addition, the adopted measure contains a set of clear definitions, improved standards for data collection, the establishment of a marking scheme and strengthened control procedures. The result is the outcome of the joint efforts of the EU and many IOTC members, which have resulted in improving the original EU proposal.

         

Plastic and other non-natural materials in FADs pollute the oceans when the devices sink or beach in coastal areas. Different rope types from natural origin analyzed during a ISSF workshop.

The IOTC also endorsed a proposal tabled by the EU on Mobulids, namely the interdiction to retain on board any Manta and Mobula rays for all vessels operating in the IOTC convention area: the ban was recommended by the IOTC Scientific Committee to protect this endangered species. Artisanal fisheries are exempted from this ban but only for accidental catches and until 2022.

However, the EU regrets that the new conservation measures on the yellowfin tuna were not ambitious enough to reduce current overfishing but welcomes the strengthening of compliance related measure.  The EU will continue to push for better management of YFT.

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