Map of the main tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). Source: World Ocean Review 2 – The Future of Fish – The Fisheries of the Future, Maribus gGmbH, Hambourg

As tuna species are highly migratory, management of stocks span wide geographical areas. These geographical areas are organised into Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) by countries with fishing interests in a particular area. The main tuna RFMOs are the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). These RFMOs meet annually to decide on fisheries measures such as catch and effort limits, monitoring measures and enforcement obligations. 

Improving the management frameworks of the RFMOs to be in line with international best-practice will safeguard the fisheries, enhance food security, and enhance the livelihoods of fishermen and fishing communities.  Given IPNLF’s commitment to working across science, policy, and the seafood sector, the RFMOs provide a key opportunity to engage at the nexus of these focus areas and to improve international management regimes critical to our members’ futures.


The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) is an intergovernmental organisation that is responsible for the management of tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean. As more than a quarter of the world’s tuna originates from the Indian Ocean, management decisions taken by the IOTC have global repercussions and directly impact IPNLF members and project areas, such as the Maldives. IPNLF representatives engage with IOTC’s annual sessions to encourage policymakers to improve management practices in line with scientific advice, improve data collection, and reduce by-catch across the region. 

Delivering change is no small undertaking because decisions require consensus of all 32 IOTC member countries. Nevertheless, progress in critical areas, like the development of reference points and harvest strategies, is being made. IPNLF will continue to support and advocate for improvements to the management for tuna species throughout the Indian Ocean.


The western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) supports the world’s largest tuna fishery - more than half of the global tuna catch originates from this region valued at more than $6 billion annually. Established in 2004, the WCPFC brings together 26 Member countries to sustainably manage the region’s tuna and other highly migratory species. More than half of the world’s pole-and-line tuna is caught in the WCPO, driven primarily by fisheries in Japan and Indonesia.  There are also several handline, troll, and selective artisanal fisheries operating throughout, which play a key role in coastal economies and local food security.   

An important part of IPNLF policy and advocacy work involves engaging with WCPFC’s annual sessions and intersessional meetings. In the run up to these important meetings we, and our partners, reach out to the governments to encourage the adoption of management improvements that will benefit the western and central Pacific’s tuna stocks and safeguard the coastal communities that depend on them.

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