Dr. Valentin Schatz, May 2022
Many details of the European Union (EU) proposal on fish aggregating devices (FADs) submitted to the 26th session (S26) of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) represent progress compared to the current IOTC Resolution 19-02. However, the EU proposal is barely more stringent than Resolution 19-02 with respect to the objective of minimizing juvenile catches of bigeye and yellowfin tuna as it includes only minor reductions in drifting FADs (DFADs) that may be operational at any time and no DFAD closure periods (the latter representing the main reason why the proposal was not adopted).
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The Overall, the EU proposal is far less stringent than the DFAD proposal submitted by Kenya et al. Besides the issues of DFAD limits and closure periods, there are also significant differences between these proposals in other areas. Examples include the EU proposal’s lack of public accessibility of the DFAD Register, lower standards regarding biodegradable DFADs, and the lack of a DFAD Monitoring System. A compromise could potentially have been reached on most if not all of these issues even if the adoption of some of these measures would have been postponed. However, the EU proposal did not contain clear commitments, provisions on preparatory work and timelines that would have allowed for a reconsideration and adoption of such measures in the near future. Instead, a review clause proposed by the EU would likely have pushed any serious consideration of these issues to 2026. Against this background, adoption of the EU proposal would likely have prevented substantial progress regarding effective and precautionary DFAD management by IOTC in the near future.