The International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) was presented with the Seafood Champion Award for Advocacy yesterday at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Seattle. The award was given in recognition of the leading role that the not-for-profit organisation played in ensuring that the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) adopted a harvest control rule (HCR) for skipjack tuna at its 2016 annual session.
A HCR is widely regarded by stakeholders as an essential management tool to ensure healthy fish populations and enduring social and economic benefits. For Indian Ocean tuna stocks, this perception gained further traction in early 2016 when scientists determined that yellowfin was being overfished and that other species could go the same way if immediate action was not taken. To galvanise the strong support for the HCR proposal from IOTC coastal states, IPNLF took a collaborative approach, working with the NGO community, scientists, the supply chain and coastal states. To coordinate such a wide range of stakeholders, IPNLF undertook a multifaceted engagement approach in the months leading up to the IOTC meeting and during the proceedings.
The successful adoption of the HCR signified a pivotal point for fisheries management and seafood sustainability; it was the first time that a tuna management body had agreed on a proactively precautionary management system to avoid the over-exploitation of a tuna stock. The adoption paves the way for a new era in tuna fisheries management – offering a much more dynamic model that safeguards resources and the fishing communities that depend on them.
“This award is both a great honour for IPNLF and an important milestone in our progress. Not only does it acknowledge the tireless efforts and determination of our team to get a job done; it also recognises the engagement of our growing Member network – our very own champions of change. Together, we are making a difference by addressing some of the supply chain’s most pressing sustainability challenges while continuing to progress the market aspirations of one-by-one tuna fisheries and those coastal communities who are so very dependent on them,” says Martin Purves, Managing Director of IPNLF.
Purves continues, “This award was largely given in light of our strategies aimed at ensuring a skipjack HCR for the Indian Ocean was delivered. This work and the game-changing decision by IOTC demonstrates the effectiveness of coordinated efforts when it comes to RFMO negotiations and also sends a clear message to stakeholders everywhere that management bodies can and will respond to sufficient constructive pressure to safeguard fisheries. Yes, we have made progress, but there is so much more to do. Our hope is that the harvest control rule for Indian Ocean skipjack becomes a defining moment for tuna fisheries management and that pre-agreed HCRs will become the norm for tuna fisheries everywhere.”
Adam Baske, IPNLF’s Director of Policy & Outreach, who accepted the award on behalf of IPNLF with Juliette Tunstall, IPNLF’s Communications Manager, acknowledged the pivotal role played by one of last year’s Seafood Champion Award winners, the Maldives Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, under the leadership of Dr Mohamed Shainee. “Since joining the IOTC in 2011 the Maldives has been leading the charge for improved management of Indian Ocean tuna resources. The strong support of the Maldives and other developing coastal states in the Indian Ocean was a critical element in the adoption of the HCR. Such management models, where the coastal states take a leading role in the responsible management of the tuna fisheries, are desperately needed across the globe to help safeguard the resources for those that depend on them.” says Baske.
The SeaWeb Seafood Summit (5-7 June 2017) hosted the Seafood Champion Awards Ceremony to recognise individuals and companies for outstanding efforts in promoting environmentally responsible seafood and ocean health. Winners were chosen from a group of 16 finalists that represent excellence in promoting environmentally responsible seafood.