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ISSF: Only One Tuna Stock Has Harvest Control Rules Global, April 15, 13

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) released the latest update to its Status of the World Fisheries for Tuna report today, and for the first time the analysis tracks the adoption of reference points and harvest control rules (HCRs) for each of the world’s 23 commercially fished stocks of tuna.

The report finds that all regional fishery management organizations (RFMOs) are working towards identifying suitable limit reference points, which are science-based conservation benchmarks that help fishery management decisions, although not all RFMOs have adopted reference points formally. Only one stock (southern bluefin tuna) has harvest control rules in place. This crucial management tool provides a predetermined set of measures that automatically come into play when a stock has been fished to its limit, such as catch limits and closures. Sustainability certification schemes, like the Marine Stewardship Council, require reference points and control rules in order for a fishery to achieve unconditional certification.

“Well defined, pre-agreed upon and stock-specific benchmarks for avoiding overfishing prevent delayed action or inaction when national governments and RFMOs face a decline in stock levels. Some regions are showing signs of improved policy but this updated report reinforces the fact that RFMOs need more support in building out clear target and limit reference points and harvest control rules” said ISSF President Susan Jackson.

Complete catch data from 2011 and a list of all measures adopted by RFMOs during 2012 are also included in the report. The stock rankings were last updated in December and since then assessments have not changed significantly for any region or species.

Since 2009, the Status of the World Fisheries for Tuna report has compiled the scientific records of the different major tuna stocks done by each of the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) into one document, serving as a single comprehensive resource for tuna stock information.

Access the updated ISSF Stock Status Ratings for April 2013