Final FAO harvest strategy capacity-building workshop held in San Diego
Through the Common Oceans ABNJ [areas beyond national jurisdiction] Tuna Project, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) coordinates a number of activities with a large array of partners to improve the sustainability of tuna fisheries. Among those, there have been a total of eight capacity building workshops, with the last and final one taking place in the final week of August in San Diego, California, U.S.A.
The workshops seek to bring together decision makers and experts to exchange information on fisheries management, with a focus on biodiversity conservation and implementation of a management system known as “harvest strategies.” This is a concept that basically sets rules in advance for actions that will be taken when certain thresholds are reached, for example, when stock assessments, return of effort, or actual catch data are at a certain number. This differs from current methods in which data is usually gathered first, then policy makers discuss and negotiate the catch limits afterwards, while subjected to a great deal of political and lobbying pressure.
Alejandro Anganuzzi, global tuna project coordinator for the FAO’s Common Oceans Program, said that all tuna regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) are in the process of implementing harvest strategies, following a process known as management strategy evaluation. To date, three have been completed, but the RFMOs have adopted a timeline for completion in several cases, and the technical work is advancing. Normally it takes between three and five years to complete the evaluation for a stock.
“We were pleasantly surprised about the level of commitment, even if full understanding of the methodology and the process will take some more time,” Anganuzzi said. “This is an important commitment that changes fundamentally how the consequences of management actions are assessed and how uncertainty is incorporated in those management decisions.”