A Checklist to Ensure Healthy Fisheries in the Eastern Pacific

IATTC should take action for sustainable, science-based management

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A Checklist to Ensure Healthy Fisheries in the Eastern Pacific
Bigeye tuna
Fabien Forget ISSF

When the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) meets 22-26 July in Bilbao, Spain, members should take the following actions to fulfill their mandate to sustainably manage tunas, sharks, and other highly migratory species in the eastern Pacific Ocean while reducing the negative impact of IATTC fisheries on the marine ecosystem.

  • Adopt measures to end overfishing of bigeye and yellowfin tunas, in line with scientific advice.
    • Agree to science-based catch limits or limits to the total sets allowed in the purse seine fishery and/or the number of sets on fish aggregating devices (FADs).
    • Reduce longline catch limits for bigeye tuna.
  • End overfishing of Pacific bluefin tuna by reducing catch limits, given the species’ severely depleted status.
  • Accelerate the development of harvest strategies for key species by providing adequate funding for management strategy evaluation (MSE).
  • Create a dialogue group of scientists, managers, and other stakeholders to advance the MSE process.
  • Increase data collection on FAD use by providing position data from satellite buoys on the devices to allow a scientific assessment of the FAD fishery, per the recommendations of IATTC’s staff and the Scientific Advisory Committee.
  • Improve the oversight and accountability of transshipment operations.
    • Require transshipment authorizations and declarations to be sent to all relevant authorities, including the IATTC secretariat, in near real time.
    • Mandate that carrier vessels notify the secretariat of their intent to transship IATTC-managed species when entering the Convention area and confirm the presence of an observer and an operational vessel monitoring system (VMS).
    • Ensure that observer reports about at-sea and in-port transshipments are sent directly to the secretariat.
    • Require that vessels involved in transshipments be flagged to a member or cooperating nonmember government and that each vessel’s International Maritime Organization number be included in transshipment declarations and other required reports.
    • Ensure that all transshipped species, including sharks, be reported by species on the transshipment declaration form.
  • Increase observer coverage for longline fishing operations and develop an electronic monitoring (EM) program for these fisheries.
    • Require 100 per cent observer coverage for all longline operations, including use of EM.
    • Provide funding to continue EM initiatives for small purse seiners and expand trials to longline vessels.
    • Direct the IATTC staff to develop EM minimum standards and requirements for data collection and reporting.
  • Strengthen port State measures by adopting a proposal to establish minimum standards for port inspections. Per the proposal, the IATTC should:
    • Require States to designate ports for use by foreign fishing vessels.
    • Require prior notification from vessels wishing to land and/or transship in port.
    • Allow for denial of entry into port.
    • Provide guidelines for effective port inspections so action can be taken against vessels engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
  • Request a formal cost-benefit analysis to improve the use of VMS, building on considerations reported to the last session (Document IATTC-93-05) and examining the need for a steering committee to guide a study into options with the aim of recommending a preference to IATTC members at the next session.