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WWF calls for urgent reform of Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna fishery

WWF calls on ocean leaders to take extraordinary measures to stop overfishing and enable yellowfin tuna populations to recover

In advance of the 24th annual meeting of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, IOTC taking place 2-6 November, WWF calls on ocean leaders to take extraordinary measures to stop overfishing and enable yellowfin tuna populations to recover. WWF urges all member states to reconsider opening the yellowfin tuna rebuilding plan of the IOTC, Resolution 19/01, to make it stronger, clearer and, ultimately, more effective.  
The call comes as market pressures for more sustainable management continue to increase, with some brands and retailers already halting sourcing tuna from the Indian Ocean.
“Consumers and markets are demanding sustainably caught tuna coming from effectively managed fisheries. Companies are taking action to eliminate any high risk species from their supply chain,” said Marcel Kroese, WWF’s Global Tuna Leader.
In 2016, the IOTC adopted a rebuilding measure aiming to achieve a 20% reduction in yellowfin tuna catches, but member states have fallen well short of this target yet again.
“Allowing the yellowfin tuna population to crash would not only harm ocean ecosystems, it would have a disastrous effect on the livelihoods of countless fishers and their families, and damage local economies,” said Kroese.
Umair Shahid, WWF’s Indian Ocean Tuna Manager, said, “We cannot expect the coastal states to bear the brunt of inaction and repeated failures. Member states must be held accountable for these repeated failures and in case where annual agreed limit is exceeded, over-catch should be deducted from following years as payback.”
“Every country that catches Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna must raise its voice and ensure that a rebuilding plan for yellowfin is top priority. With every season of continued overfishing, the window is closing to recover this species that is so essential to economies, nutrition and ocean health,” said Shahid.
WWF’s top priority for the meeting is to ensure action toward the urgent rebuilding of Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna populations. WWF is also calling for parties to commit to reducing fish aggregation devices, as massive quantities of juvenile yellowfin tuna are caught before they can even reproduce.
In case of a failure to act on these points, IOTC must commit to call a special session of the commission focusing on rebuilding plan for yellowfin as early as 2021.
Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares)