The International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) is urging decision makers in the upcoming Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to strengthen the management framework for sustainable and equitable tuna fisheries in the Pacific Ocean.
This year’s WCPFC Regular Session convenes 2-7 December in Manila, Philippines. Ahead of this important meeting, IPNLF, the non-profit association that is committed to developing and supporting responsible one-by-one tuna fisheries and supply chains, is calling on the Commission to give greater protection to the region’s tuna fisheries and the coastal communities that are heavily reliant upon them.
The Pacific Ocean is home to some of the most abundant populations of tuna, including albacore, skipjack and yellowfin, while the area covered by the WCPFC amounts to almost 20% of the Earth’s surface. As well as having the world’s largest tuna fishery, the WCPFC convention area has two of the world’s most productive pole-and-line fisheries (Indonesia and Japan), and many troll and handline fisheries that support coastal communities throughout the region.
IPNLF and its Member network, including fishers from Indonesia, New Zealand and the United States, want to see the adoption of management measures that safeguard tuna stocks and marine ecosystems so that one-by-one fisheries and the communities that depend on them can flourish.
Specifically, IPNLF is hoping for progress in the following seven areas:
- Continue progress on the adoption of harvest strategies for all major tuna stocks in accordance with the proposed timeline that aims to avoid adverse impacts on the stocks while also recognising the social and economic dependence of coastal communities that rely on these fisheries
- Adopt an enforceable and effective bridging measure for the management of tropical tunas that recognises the important social and economic contributions of one-by-one tuna fisheries to coastal communities throughout the WCPFC convention area
- Improve the monitoring and regulation of purse-seine supply vessels and other undermanaged fishing gears which contribute to overall fishing effort, including the impacts associated with drifting fish aggregating devices (dFADs)
- Reduce marine pollution (including plastics and dFADs that damage coastal habitats) by adhering to marine debris reporting requirements, recovering dFADs at sea and requiring only fully biodegradable materials to be used in dFAD construction
- Adopt measures that effectively reduce by-catch and protect endangered, threatened or protected species, including sharks, seabirds, cetaceans and turtles
- Improve observer safety and increase longline observer coverage (including via electronic monitoring) to better estimate by-catch and improve fishery monitoring
- Increase the transparency of WCPFC compliance by allowing accredited observers to participate in the process
IPNLF maintains that the proposals on tropical tunas and South Pacific albacore are particularly important this year in face of increasing fishing effort and stock status projections. Progress is vital in these areas as more holistic management frameworks will benefit all stakeholders, bring positive long-term returns to fishing communities and minimise the risk of future fisheries collapse.
Jeremy Crawford, Southeast Asia Director of IPNLF, says, “IPNLF recognises that the WCPFC has made some steady progress in recent years to establish science-based management, but some significant obstacles remain. Among these, it is key that decision makers ensure the sustainable and equitable management of these tuna fisheries so that the many communities that have a high degree of economic and social dependence on the fisheries are front and centre in the negotiations.”
Championing the robust measures that we have highlighted, IPNLF will again be working hard with likeminded delegations throughout the Commission negotiations to help safeguard the future of these fisheries and the communities that depend on them.”
IPNLF’s call is supported by its Members, including Indonesian one-by-one tuna industry body Asosiasi Perikanan Pole & Line dan Handline (AP2HI), who recognise that responsible action at WCPFC is integral to their businesses as well as the health of the marine environment.
Janti Djuari, Chairwoman of AP2HI, says, “Indonesia has the largest one-by-one tuna fishery in the world using low-impact methods, such as pole-and-line and handline. Sustainable management across the entire region is not an option – it’s a necessity if we want our fishermen and fishing communities to have a future.”
IPNLF’s full Position Statement ahead of the 14th Regular Meeting of WCPFC is available here