ISSF adopts, amends tuna conservation measures

Published on
November 3, 2016

New and amended conservation measures have been announced by the tuna fisheries conservation group International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) that address the use of non-entangling fish aggregating devices (FADs), product traceability and fishing capacity management.

According to ISSF, the measures directly impact how nearly 30 global seafood companies do business with vessels on the water, at the processing plant and in the marketplace.

“When it comes to the global tuna fishing, industry must play a leading role in ensuring the long-term sustainability of global tuna stocks,” said Susan Jackson, president of ISSF. “With as much as 75 percent of the world’s tuna processing capacity conforming to multiple measures for sustainability best practices – and being transparently audited against those measures – ISSF can make real progress toward its goal of sustainable fisheries for the long term.”

ISSF said scientific studies show that FADs, when constructed with materials such as loose old netting, can entangle vulnerable species such as sharks, while further research has indicated that vessels fully implementing non-entangling FADs can completely eliminate shark entanglement. To address this issue, ISSF scientists developed the “ISSF Guide for Non-Entangling FADs.”

While some tuna fisheries management organizations have made the transition to non-entangling FADs, others have not, said ISSF. To support the transition to non-entangling FADs, ISSF has adopted “Conservation Measure 3.5: Transactions with Vessels that Use Only Non-entangling FADs,” which stipulates that ISSF participating companies “conduct transactions only with those purse seine vessels whose owners have a public policy regarding the use of only non-entangling FADs.

This measure became effective 18 October 2016 and vessel owners have six months to develop and publish their policies, which must require deployment of only non-entangling FADs within 12 months.

ISSF also highlighted that adequate tuna product traceability records are necessary to enforce compliance with existing and future conservation measures, as well as to eliminate illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. Therefore, ISSF has adopted “Conservation Measure 2.3: Product Labeling by Species and Area of Capture,” which states that participating companies will identify: all species of tuna; and the ocean of capture for tuna contained in a product on all labeling or through a publicly available web-based traceability system, for all branded tuna products.

This measure will apply to all product labeling from 1 January 2018.

With regard to tuna fleet fishing capacity, Jackson said that “unmanaged fishing capacity is the quickest path to overfishing,” and that ISSF continues to be concerned that there are too many tuna fishing boats on the water, causing the overfishing of some stocks.

“That’s why ISSF has refined and expanded its capacity management conservation measures, through which the tuna industry – following scientific and environmental group recommendations – is urged to do business with only those vessels that already are on the water, unless new vessels are replacing existing boats that are taken completely out of service,” she said.

In additional support of efforts toward capacity management, ISSF amended one of its conservation measures regarding the ISSF ProActive Vessel Register (PVR) whereby if purchasing tuna from large-scale purse seine vessels, ISSF participating companies now must ensure that 100 percent of those vessels are on the PVR.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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