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ISSF Calls For ‘Complete Closure’ Of Purse Seining’ To Protect Bigeye

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has released its position statement for the upcoming 8th Regular Session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to be held this March in Guam. Noting the findings of the WCPFC Scientific Committee, ISSF is calling for member nations to take a more aggressive approach in efforts to implement conservation management measures that protect tuna stocks and the region’s greater marine environment.
According to the latest scientific analysis, the seasonal closures of the purse seine FAD fishery currently in place are insufficient to reduce the fishing mortality of bigeye tuna in the short term. There are also concerns that the WCPFC’s observer program is not yet properly developed to ensure compliance, and that exemptions to the management measure allow FADs to be used in some areas even during the closure. ISSF’s position statement “urges the WCPFC to implement a complete closure of the purse seine fishery in lieu of a FAD closure.”ISSF has also called on the WCPFC to give “high priority” to the development of reference points and harvest control rules, a necessary component of fishery management.
In an effort to promote enhanced shark conservation, ISSF urged the Commission to mandate that fins be naturally attached to sharks onboard fishing vessels, a step that can better help weed out the practice of shark finning. In addition, ISSF highlighted the need for a ban on vessels deliberately setting nets around whale sharks.
According to the position statement, nations must also act to better regulate, monitor and report transshipments in EEZs and to work towards ultimately reducing the number of fishing vessels to a level that is commensurate with the productivity of the fisheries.