Tuna industry urged to regulate bycatch

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 24th June 2010

FishThe tuna industry is being urged to regulate bycatch – the capture of undersized specimens and fish other than tuna – to increase fishery sustainability, by the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation.

The call comes as representatives of Australia’s tuna industry regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) gather in Brisbane for an international workshop on bycatch.

The ISSF, a global partnership between scientists, the tuna industry and WWF, is urging RFMOs to adopt uniform best practices consistent with the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement to reduce the amount of non-target animals such as sharks, turtles and small tuna incidentally taken during tuna fishing.

In a document presented during the International Workshop on Tuna RFMO Management Issues Relating to Bycatch, ISSF notes that “many bycatch issues are common to these RFMOs, and that it would be effective for these management organizations to follow a common bycatch mitigation approach.”

The Foundation also expresses concern that “the approaches taken to mitigate bycatch by the tuna RFMOs differ, sometimes substantially.”

Best practice would require members to collect and report fishery data on bycatch, disseminate that data, evaluate the impact of tuna fisheries on bycatch species and encourage ecosystems research; adopt measures that minimize waste; and adopt measures to mitigate bycatch.

“Adopting these best practices would be a never-before-seen level of progress,” ISSF President Susan Jackson said. “This kind of uniformity among RFMOs would bring us much closer to a comprehensive, global approach to tackling bycatch issues in tuna fisheries.”

The ISSF remains committed to science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting ocean health.