Posted on 12 February 2021
WWF recognizes the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19 and its economic and social impact on the fishery sector in the Indian Ocean in 2020. IOTC Contracting Parties must adopt a rebuilding plan for the overfished Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna stock at the Special Session of the IOTC.
The state of tuna in the Indian Ocean is perilous, with three out of four commercial tuna stocks either overfished or worryingly close to that threshold. In addition to the ineffective management of tuna stocks, associated species and non-target species remain poorly regulated with very high bycatch rates (60,000 > mortality of dolphins and whales).
While the IOTC Special Session will take place virtually due to the global pandemic, the pandemic does not excuse the CPCs of the IOTC from their responsibility to manage Indian Ocean tuna stocks through joint and collaborative efforts. Without meaningful engagement, discussion and dialogue, governments will not be able to attain an effective rebuilding plan for yellowfin tuna.
Considering the majority of the catch from industrial fisheries ends up as canned tuna in the EU
and the UK, or sashimi in Japan and United States, WWF and our partners call for a rigorous management approach that recognizes tuna’s vital role in food security, income generation and economic development for the marginalized communities of the Indian Ocean coastal states.
The markets cannot continue with the status quo and ever-increasing risk of stock collapse. While a market-wide ban on sourcing yellowfin from Indian Ocean is looming, IOTC CPCs cannot put off action for another year while fishing effort and capacity continues to increase. WWF calls on CPCs to adopt a robust and effective yellowfin tuna rebuilding plan while exercising a precautionary approach. WWF remains committed to the long-term sustainability of ocean resources and securing its vitality for food security, ocean resilience, ecosystem health and means of income generation and jobs for coastal communities.