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What's next for pole-and-line?

In February this year the IPNLF hosted the first annual meeting of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You can read more about the gathering of world fishery experts here. Dr Shiham Adam, Chairman of the STAC, describes the key outcomes in the text below.
Maldivian fishers catch tuna one-by-one. © IPNLF

Dr Shiham Adam: "The STAC’s main function is to advise the IPNLF on how to work towards its primary aim of advancing wellbeing amongst coastal fisheries by increasing the global supply of socially and environmentally responsible pole-and-line caught tuna. The Committee is tasked with helping identify emerging issues in pole-and-line tuna fisheries where IPNLF can provide meaningful engagement and maximum impact. It is also worth mentioning that the meeting in Kuala Lumpur was co-funded by IPNLF members Marks & Spencer, MMP, Ocean Brands and World Wise Foods and it would have been extremely difficult getting the STAC off the ground without their generous funding.

The meeting focused on eight key topics and the challenges therein. Those topics were: general pole-and-line fisheries data capture, livebait, fish aggregating devices (FADs), advocacy and governance, environmental issues, bycatch, post harvest and social equity. At the end of the two-day meeting, we had a long list of important action areas under each topic plus the immediate priorities for the months ahead.

Those priorities are as follows:

  • General pole-and-line fisheries data capture

Encourage and support strengthening the collection, compilation and dissemination fisheries data in pole-and-line fisheries. This has two parts: (1) Encourage the recording of catches of neritic tuna other than primary target species in pole-and-line fisheries; and (2) Ensure these efforts are consistent with regional formats and regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs).

  • Livebait

Look at a generic approach to bait fish assessment. This has three important aspects: (1) Clarify and demonstrate whether bait management plans are needed for specific pole-and-line fisheries third-party certification; (2) Encourage livebait fisheries to formulate management plans; and (3) Review and make historical data available where appropriate.

  • FADs

Develop a good understanding of the role of FADs in pole-and-line fisheries, and the role of advocacy in defending that position as necessary.

  • Advocacy and governance

There are three important but separate priorities within advocacy and governance: (1) Study the implication of Indonesian membership in RFMOs; (2) Communicate stock status and the overcapacity of purse seiners (and fishing fleets generally) to nation states’ fisheries departments; and (3) Increase collaborations and information exchange with NGOs.

  • Environmental issues

Provide data to refute incorrect claims on certain pole-and-line fisheries issues. This will require standardised studies of fuel use intensity in pole-and-line, purse seine and longline fishing, the differences in bycatch (species and composition) around FADs from pole-and-line compared with purse seine and the impacts on the structure of ecosystems by pole-and-line fisheries.

  • Bycatch

Encourage existing and new observer programmes and port-sampling activities with the objective of characterising the bycatch in terms of species and quantities.

  • Post-harvest

Review the quality of fish from various fleets and develop best practice guidelines for post-harvest handling. In addition, facilitate industry collaboration in order to improve the value chain.

  • Social equity

Review relevant information on the social benefits of pole-and-line fisheries. Also consider assessing the potential impacts on local communities of increased pole and line exports.

By advising the International Pole & Line Foundation on the most impactful areas in which they can work, the scientists involved in our STAC are contributing to creating jobs for fishermen and supporting the future of fishing communities worldwide."