Management and governance reform urgently needed for a sustainable tuna fishery in the Indian Ocean



Posted on 20 April 2012  | 
Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)
© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWFEnlarge
Tuna stocks are increasingly threatened worldwide, due to overfishing and lack of effective management. In the Indian Ocean, difficulties in efficiently managing highly migratory tuna stocks at regional level are evident as some key stocks seem either to be near full utilization (Bigeye tuna) or very close to overfishing (Yellowfin tuna).

The Western Indian Ocean (WIO) represents around 20% of tuna catches worldwide. WWF MWIOPO is therefore actively following the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) debates and carries out lobbying efforts with WWF’s Coastal East Africa Initiative (CEAI). At a more local level, WWF MWIOPO has committed to support the island states to improve their capacity for the sustainable and profitable management of their tuna resources. As such, we recently co-organized with our colleagues from East Africa, several regional meetings gathering WIO countries as well as regional organizations, in order to facilitate exchanges and coordination on tuna governance and management issues. Many resolutions for regional actions were taken, which will contribute to improving tuna management in the region if adequately implemented.
An economic valorisation of tuna resources in the region that we have commissioned together with WWF CEAI will also help the WIO States to have a good understanding of the tuna fisheries dynamics in the region in the view of future bilateral or regional negotiations.

Some Indian Ocean countries are already showing commitment to improve tuna management at local and regional levels. For example the Maldives, that have recently become a member of IOTC, are currently making their skipjack pole and line fishery assessed for an MSC eco-certification. They are therefore strongly engaging in IOTC to promote good management measures. A Maldivian delegation has also visited WWF MWIOPO last year to exchange about ideas that would source best solutions for the tuna fisheries. This kind of dynamism might play an important role in future tuna management and governance changes.

Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)
© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF Enlarge

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