Lucy Unwin, May 2023
The 27th Session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) was held in Mauritius from the 8th – 12th of May 2023, in order to discuss the need to reduce catch allocations for overfished Yellowfin and Bigeye Tuna stocks and the management of drifting Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) in the Indian Ocean. The meeting did result in a number of positive outcomes, including the adoption of measures to reduce catch numbers of the overfished Bigeye Tuna stocks and the adoption of world leading electronic monitoring standards. However, a lack of consensus between member states meant that no new measures were adopted to bring about the recovery of the Indian Ocean’s Yellowfin Tuna stocks, which have been overfished since 2015.
In order to rebuild Yellowfin Tuna stocks, a 30% reduction in catch numbers from 2020 levels is needed urgently. In addition, the excessive harvest of Yellowfin and Bigeye juveniles associated with the use of drifting FADs by purse seine vessels needs to be addressed. At the meeting in Mauritius, the EU remained inflexible on their stance on dFAD management in the Indian Ocean, continuing to object to the dFAD management measures agreed upon by the majority of member states at the previous IOTC Special Session in Mombasa, Kenya. Given that the EU’s fleet is the biggest user of dFADs in the Indian Ocean, their inflexibility on this measure continues to prevent the recovery of these vital tuna stocks as well as causing detrimental impacts on the marine environment, biodiversity and the vulnerable coastal communities that rely on these tuna stocks for their food security and livelihoods. We call on the EU and the other member states that objected to this dFAD management measure to withdraw their objections and cooperate with these preventative measures to ensure healthy tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean for future generations.
Read more about the outcomes of the meeting in Mauritius here.