Accelerate Action: Region With the World’s Largest Tuna Fisheries Needs Robust, Holistic and Inclusive Management

LONDON, UK- The International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF), the only non-profit that is solely committed to promoting responsible one-by-one tuna fisheries and supply chains, is urging the decision makers at the upcoming annual meeting of the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to strengthen the management framework for sustainable and equitable tuna fisheries in the region. 

The Western and Central Pacific Ocean is home to the world’s largest tuna fishery, two of the largest pole-and-line fisheries, and many troll and handline fisheries – all of which support coastal communities throughout the region. To ensure these one-by-one tuna fisheries and the communities that depend on them can flourish, IPNLF asks the WCPFC to adopt management tools and controls that safeguard tuna stocks and ecosystems. The call comes ahead of the WCPFC’s Regular Session, which convenes on 5-11 December in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. 

In its official Position Statement, IPNLF encourages Commission members, cooperating non-members and participating territories (CCMs collectively), to adopt a number of conservation and management measures (CMMs) that will strengthen the sustainability and long-term viability of tuna fisheries in the region.

Roy Bealey, IPNLF Fisheries Director, says, “We have welcomed those science-based tools that the WCPFC has previously incorporated into the region’s tuna fisheries management, but many opportunities remain for the Commission to deliver the equitable and holistic framework required to safeguard tuna stocks and their supporting marine ecosystems. The CCMs must act in the best interests of inclusive fisheries and their many reliant communities while accelerating initiatives that enable low-impact, one-by-one fisheries to also flourish.” 

Specifically, IPNLF’s Position Statement urges WCPFC members to prioritise the following actions:

·       Continue the progress of harvest strategies that ensure the sustainability of tuna stocks while also explicitly recognising the social and economic importance of these fisheries to coastal communities

·       Strengthen the management of tropical tunas in line with the advice from the Scientific Committee 

·       Ensure greater transparency in purse seine fishing operations by improving the monitoring and regulation of drifting fish aggregating devices (dFADs) and purse seine supply vessels 

·       Ensure that FAD owners recover dFADs while at sea to minimise damage to sensitive coastal ecosystems

·       Reduce marine pollution, including plastics and ghost fishing impacts associated with FADs and other lost gears

·       Adopt measures that reduce bycatch and protect endangered, threatened or protected species, including sharks, seabirds, cetaceans and sea turtles

·       Adopt a Fins Naturally Attached policy to protect sharks

·       Improve the monitoring, control and surveillance of longline fishing activities

·       Impose strict monitoring and control on the use of any aerial means, such as drones, to search for tropical tunas

IPNLF’s full Position Statement ahead of the 16th Regular Meeting of WCPFC is available here