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Pew insists in the need to strengthen protection measures for several tuna measures. (Photo Credit: Sagarpa)

Pew urges IATTC to protect tuna and shark species

WORLDWIDE
Tuesday, July 08, 2014, 23:30 (GMT + 9)

The Pew Charitable Trusts calls on Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) Members and cooperating Non-Members to take urgent action to protect tuna and shark species at the 87th meeting to be held in Lima, Peru, from 14 to 18 July.

“In the past, [IATTC] Members have taken the initiative, ahead of other regional management organizations, to put in place important practices such as requiring onboard observers to monitor catches and to record data. Yet as more challenging problems have come to the forefront in recent years, progress seems to have stalled. IATTC Members routinely put off making critical decisions and often block needed measures altogether,” pointed out Pew.

The NGO's recommendations to IATTC Commission are:

A. Implement strong conservation and management measures to reduce fishing pressure on yellowfin, bigeye, and Pacific bluefin tuna. Precautionary, science-based catch limits and gear controls are critical to safeguarding these depleted tuna populations:

  • Adopt an effective rebuilding plan for Pacific bluefin tuna, including a yearly catch limit of not more than 2,750 metric tons, a minimum size limit of 20 kilograms;
  • Electronically track fish aggregating devices and manage their use effectively to collect information about the locations and uses of FAD satellite buoys and share this tracking information with the Commission’s scientific staff. FAD levels should prevent overfishing of juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna;
  • Appropriate target and limit reference points should be set for albacore, skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye, and Pacific bluefin tuna, which is consistent with the Antigua Convention, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, and the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries;
  • Increase observer coverage on longline vessels.

B. Adopt conservation and management measures to protect sharks:

  • Prohibit the retention of biologically vulnerable shark species, particularly silky and hammerhead sharks;
  • Limit the mortality of other shark species, including blue and shortfin mako sharks, to sustainable levels;
  • Require best practices for reducing bycatch, such as the ban on mobulid ray catch and on the use of wire leaders.

C. Improve compliance and target illegal, reported and unregulated fishing:

  • Strengthen port State measures by adopting minimum standards for port inspections and requiring effective follow-up actions and communications between the flag and port States involved and the IATTC Secretariat;
  • Require International Maritime Organization numbers for authorized fishing vessels: all vessels at least 24 meters in length or operating in waters outside the exclusive economic zone of the flag State should have International Maritime Organization (IMO) numbers by 1 January, 2016;
  • Ban all forms of transshipment at sea.


Pew considers the main fishing nations -- Japan, Mexico, US, South Korea and Chinese Taipei -- have failed to enact a Pacific bluefin tuna rebuilding plan and they will have the opportunity to set precautionary quotas to prevent continued overfishing.


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Photo Courtesy of FIS Member  SAGARPA - Secretaria de Agricultura, Ganaderia, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentacion
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