The Maldives, supported by a number of Indian Ocean coastal states and IPNLF, spearheaded the development of the Harvest Control Rule (HCR) proposal for Indian Ocean skipjack tuna, aimed at ensuring that this valuable resource was managed sustainably and used optimally. HCRs are a set of well-defined rules used for determining a management action in response to changes in indicators of a stock status with respect to reference points.
On 26 May 2016, the Maldives and 14 coastal countries led the adoption of a HCR for skipjack tuna at the IOTC. This represented a major milestone for the long-term outlook for the fishery and the communities dependent on it. This pre-agreed management framework, informed by science, is an example of best-practice fisheries management. The skipjack tuna fishery became the first in the world to adopt such a management measure. As the measure came into place while the stock was in a healthy state, this also illustrates this use of the precautionary approach.
Yellowfin tuna is a highly-prized and commercially important species in the Maldives that supports the livelihoods of at least 6,000 fishers and many local processing companies. The total annual catch estimated to be 50,000 tonnes per year.
The effective management of Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna continues to be a priority. To protect this resource and the livelihoods dependent upon it, the Maldives, supported by IPNLF, plays a leading role in advocating for measures to protect yellowfin tuna. In 2018, the Maldives supported the adoption of gear-based reduction of catches, maintaining catches at or below the 2015 level, as part of the yellowfin tuna rebuilding plan. In 2019, the Maldives continues to provide a leadership role to strengthen the rebuilding plan adopted by the IOTC.
The management of baitfish is important in all pole-and-line tuna fisheries. To ensure that the baitfish supply is maintained, the Maldives has improved data acquisition and monitoring through logbooks and during IPNLF-supported observer trips. Furthermore, a standard scoop, which is the unit measured by the fishers when loading livebait into baitwells. Education and awareness are major components of the management, and training is being provided for fishers on rationing the use of livebait, reducing post-harvest mortality, improving bait tank water circulation and maintaining optimal densities.