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IOTC Wants Mandatory Certification On Tuna To Eliminate IUU

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) plans to impose a mandatory product certification system on its member countries to certify that their tuna products are not caught using illegal practices, before being exported.

The plan was proposed on Wednesday during the third day of the commission’s 13th annual meeting in Bali, Indonesia representative Saut Hutagalung said Wednesday.

Tuna products that fail to show the certificate will be prohibited from entering other member countries’ markets, Saut says.

“The new regulation aims to reduce the practice of illegal fishing among member countries and also to make sure that the ‘tuna’ capturing system will not affect other species like sharks, sea turtles and sea wolves, which have become endangered species,” he said.

The certificate will contain and verify information submitted by fishermen and traders before exporting the fish, specifying the type of fishing boat used when capturing the fish, the fishing equipment used, areas fished and the dates of catches, according to Suseno Sukoyono, who heads the Indonesian delegation to IOTC, which ends on April 3.

No timetable has been set for the new regulations to be introduced, but Saut expects the new regulation imposing a catch documentation requirement in respect of big-eye tuna to be effective starting 2010. Big-eye tuna are amongst the tuna species most threatened by over-fishing.

Saut says that the product certification requirement was initially proposed by the European Union (EU) countries, which since 2008 have required fish product certification for all fish products entering EU member state markets.

“They want a similar system to be applied within IOTC member countries,” Saut says.

The certification system maybe one of the platforms strengthening IOTC prior to applying mandatory trade sanctions against illegal fishing practices by its members.

IOTC executive secretary Alexandro Anganuzzi said on Monday that the commission was considering applying trade sanctions, under which member countries would be prevented from receiving any tuna products if the country would be involved in any irresponsible fishing practices.