WWF calls for reduction in yellowfin tuna catch

Published on
April 14, 2016

The World Wildlife Fund and 38 seafood companies on Wednesday, 13 April called for a 20 percent reduction in the yellowfin tuna catch in the Indian Ocean, citing the recent reclassification of the species’ stock as “overfished.”

The announcement comes in anticipation of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission’s annual meeting in May on the French island of La Reunion, located in the Indian Ocean near Mauritius.

The WWF warned that continued fishing in excess of recommended limits has “seriously depleted” the stock. The non-profit complained that the commission has yet to adopt effective measures to control the exploitation of tuna stocks despite more than 20 years of talks.

““The industry and communities that rely on a healthy yellowfin stock are rightly concerned by the IOTC’s predictions of a stock collapse in the near future, which would place their livelihoods under threat,” WWF Indian Ocean tuna program manager Wetjens Dimmlich said. “Measures need to be taken immediately to begin rebuilding the stocks of yellowfin tuna to sustainable levels. With the clear support of such a broad cross section of the tuna fishing community, WWF hopes the IOTC commissioners will respond to this call for action and take steps to protect the industry they are responsible for.”

The 38 businesses that signed the letter include: Asda, Bell, Carrefour, Casino, Chancerelle (Connectable), Club Med, Coop (Ch), Coop (UK), Davigel, Delhaize, Direct Seafoods, Fish4Ever, Frinsa, HOFER (ALDI), Iglo, Intermarché, John West, Leclerc, Lovering, Mareblu, Marks and Spencer, Migros, Mercadona, Morrisons, Moshi Moshi, New England Seafood, Palmera, Petit Navire, Picard, Princes, Rio Mare, Sainsburys, Saupiquet, Sodexo, SPAR Austria, Tesco, Thai Union and Waitrose.

“Our companies are committed to providing consumers with sustainably sourced seafood, and look to the members of the IOTC to provide the foresight and leadership required to ensure a long-term supply of tuna,” the letter said. “We take this opportunity to assure all delegates to the 20th Session of the IOTC that there is full support and encouragement by each company listed for the immediate adoption of measures needed to meet the IOTC Scientific Committee recommendation to reduce catches of yellowfin tuna by 20 percent, and to take the steps necessary, including the adoption of harvest control rules, to ensure the sustainability of all Indian Ocean tuna stocks.”

Kenya Director of Fisheries Harrison Charo, a member of the IOTC Scientific Committee, added his voice to those calling for catch reductions for Indian Ocean tuna.

“We are concerned as a country of the recent scientific reports on the status of tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean region, in particular the yellowfin tuna, which is currently in the red status,” Charo said. “It is high time that we IOTC members put in place urgent conservation and management measures to help rebuild the stocks with a view to enhancing the socio-economic benefits to the respective countries and local fishing communities.”

In 2012, the global tuna catch reached a record high of more than 7 million tonnes, according to the FAO. Skipjack was the biggest contributor to the global tuna market, contributing about 58 percent to the 2011 tuna catch, followed by yellowfin, which contributes around 27 percent . Europe imports more seafood than any other region or country globally, accounting for 24 percent of the world’s production (EUMOFA, 2014). The EU is the main single export market for Indian Ocean tuna products, taking in 1.2 million tons annually.

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