Q&A: Seychelles Tuna Conference


Chris Dove, SeafoodSource.com contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
February 2, 2010

The inaugural Seychelles Tuna Conference kicks off on Thursday. One of the three-day event’s sponsors is the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). Fresh off last month’s Coral Triangle Initiative Business Summit in the Philippines, ISSF President Susan Jackson will give a talk titled “ISSF: Undertaking Science-based Initiatives for the Long-Term Conservation and Sustainable Use of Tuna Stocks” at the Seychelles Tuna Conference on Friday.

SeafoodSource tracked down Jackson this week to get her thoughts on the upcoming event and the future of global tuna fisheries.

Dove: What do you hope will come out of the Seychelles Tuna Conference?
Dialogue is the first step. It will ultimately lead to increased participation in the conservation and management of tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean. The Seychelles 1st Tuna Conference is an opportunity for scientists, industry leaders, government officials and ENGOs (environmental non-governmental organizations) to work toward securing sustainable tuna fisheries in the Indian Ocean. That mirrors ISSF’s model — get all the stakeholders together and work together to achieve success. In the short-term, we’d like this conference to highlight the need for the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) to enact conservation measures this March that are in line with the recommendations of the IOTC scientific committee.
What challenges does sustainable tuna fishing in the Indian Ocean face, compared to other key fishing grounds in the Mediterranean, Balearics and the waters north of Egypt and south of Turkey?
Many challenges impacting the sustainability of tuna stocks are repeated from region to region, although the depth of the challenge differs. In the Indian Ocean there’s a lack of participation that needs to be addressed, and we hope this conference begins to build more of a shared effort in conservation and management. When participation is lower than ideal it leads to gaps in data collection and ultimately poor compliance and enforcement — all have an adverse impact on our efforts to create sustainable tuna fisheries. The best and most immediate action that nations can take is to get involved with the IOTC and commit to supporting science-based conservation and management.

The Indian Ocean is of particular importance to Spanish tuna fishermen, as the port of Victoria is a strategic base for the tuna fleet. How can vessels operating there tackle mounting sustainability issues themselves?
Sustainability in the Indian Ocean will depend on the actions taken by the IOTC. That’s why it’s so important for all of these stakeholders to get involved.

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